The pundits were predicting 8T by a few points, but 8O were having none of it as they held the lead in both halves to take a thoroughly deserved victory in the 2016 Year 8 final. Conditions were perfect down on the bottom pitch as 8O went straight on the attack and after a bit of ping pong around the edge of the square, they grabbed a goal as Finn Dorrian slammed home a ball that a few 8T lads should have booted out of the danger zone. Ruaidhri O’Keefe had a reply, before Caoilte Farry rampaged through for a second 8O goal off the underside of the crossbar – a good score, to which he added a good point. Josh Killilea was doing a lot of impressive fetching and carrying for 8O, who looked strong at this stage. Dominic Perrett kept 8T in touch before they had a real boost with a well taken goal by Tiarnan Wray. 8O’s kickout began to malfunction a bit, as the outfielders forgot that they were supposed to move and get on the end of the restart balls, and Cian O’ Brien netted, before Tiarnan Wray had another point. Shay Gibson grabbed a crucial goal for 8O against the run of play – some encouragement when it looked like they might lose their way. Instead, with Dara Foster settling himself down a bit, they were getting on top of the 8T forwards as the half time whistle blew. 3-1 to 2-3 to 8O.
At half time, the builders on the site overlooking the pitch were still predicting that “the lads in the red bibs are going to steamroller the wee blue boys.” It didn’t turn out that way. Odhran Harbinson was a serious problem for 8T throughout the second half, as he bagged 1-1 for 8O in the first five minutes, firstly he had what GAA experts call ‘an Odhran Harbinson overhead special’ for a point, before Killilea and Paidi Drumm laid on a nice goal for him. 8T kept on carrying the ball too far, and were turned over by 8O’s defence. Come on lads, give it and go again! Ruairi O’Keefe and Finn Simmons combined to put Aaron Seaney in for a goal, but the kind of ‘no solo no bounce’ play they needed, didn’t happen often enough. 8O launched the long ball over the top to put Harbinson and Paidi Drumm in for 1-1, before Donnchadh Morris and Cian O’Brien had a point each to stop 8T from flatlining completely (look it up, lads), but that was the last of them really. 8O went for it, and 8Ts defence was looking to get upfield leaving Daniel O’Connor to mind the house on his own too often! Josh Killilea had a deadly point from 30 yards, Eolann Farry, Caoilte Farry, Finn Dorrian and young Harbinson added points and 8T were nearly glad as the ref ended a superb performance by him with the long whistle.
On the day, Tiarnan Wray was 8T’s best player by a margin in terms of tackling, covering and moving the ball. A lot of their lads like Matthew Melarkey, Marcus O’Hara, Cian O’Brien, Ruaidhri O’Keefe and Aaron Seaney have had excellent league campaigns, but it didn’t quite work out for them today in the final. The well built JCB driver who had stopped for a while to watch, plus most other observers picked 8O’s Josh Killilea as the biggest influence from the middle third, and he was their standout for the whole competition, but he had plenty of help from Odhran Harbinson, Dara Foster, Caoilte Farry and Paidi Drumm in particular. Josh received the cup on behalf of his class from Year 8 supremos Mr Rasdale, and Mr Duffy (whose class were blown out of it in the Year 8 League of 2004!!). So that’s it until Sports Day. There is some work to be done now getting ready for the Oisin McGrath Memorial competition, and next week, 8M hope to get their due reward when they face 8P in the third place playoff. There will be more coaching for the whole year group in the Spring as we get ready to take two teams to the Ulster Colleges competition. The Year 8 League is a great way for lads to get stuck into St Michael’s, and the turnouts for the 2016 competition show that it’s as popular as it ever was. Well done to all players!
8O Eoghan Hoy, Finn Dorrian, Paidi Drumm, Fiachra Eccles, Caoilte Farry, Eolann Farry, Joseph Ferguson, Ronan Ferguson, Ruairi Flanagan, Dara Foster, Shay Gibson, Ryan Gilleece, Oisin Grainger, Harry Henry, Dillon Grew, Odhran Harbinson, Mark Johnston, Adam Fee, Callum Hamilton, Josh Killilea, Daniel Lennox.
8T Warren Sherry, Matthew Melarkey, Darragh Monaghan, Donnchadh Morris, Darragh Murphy, Cian O’Brien, Daniel O’Connor, Marcus O’Hara, Rhys O’Hara, Ruaidhri O’Keefe, Aodhan Owens, Dominic Perrett, Aaron Seaney, Finn Simmons, Cian Treacy, Tiarnan Wray, Conor Wright, Cian White, Oisin O Maonaile.