Holy Rosary College Mountbellew denied in FAI Schools Cup Final

Wexford CBS 3-2 Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew

Sam Norval (3, 26), Rory Gilbert (90+3)          Ciaran Mulhern (33), Ryan Nolan (60) 

10-man Wexford CBS saw off the challenge of Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew in a rain-soaked AUL Complex, Clonshaugh yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, March 15) to secure their first National Cup title.

The pitch at Home Farm FC in Whitehall was deemed unplayable by the match officials prior to kick-off so a late change was required.

Also, a squad reshuffle for both teams as Mountbellew’s Cormac Proulx was serving a suspension following his dismissal in their semi-final outing with Douglas Community College two weeks ago. While Kaylem Harnett was included in the match day squad for CBS following his return from International duty with the Irish Under 17s. Polish International Filip Wasilewski was a notable absentee for Wexford as he sat out the game due to a concussion.

Wexford CBS got off to a dream start with a superb goal from talisman Sam NORVAL after just three minutes. Darby Purcell headed the ball down into the path of Norval on the edge of the box as he smashed the net leaving Walsh with no chance.

The talented Norval / Purcell duo both netted braces in the National Cup semi-final against St. Columba’s College, Stranorlar a fortnight ago and they continued their rich vein of form.

Ryan Nolan missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise two minutes later as his effort went agonisingly wide of the far post.

Wexford dominated possession early on with Kaylem Harnett and Sam Norval making pacy runs down the flanks which Mountbellew struggled to contain.

Luc Farrell played a well-weighted ball into the box with Darby Purcell seeing his glancing header just go wide with 22 minutes on the clock.

Three minutes on and Ciaran Mulhern carved out a great opportunity for himself but missed the target as the game flowed nicely. 

It may have looked like one way traffic when NORVAL scored again on 26 minutes as his physical prowess saw him skip past the Holy Rosary defence to slot in.  

A few moments later, Mountbellew responded as Ciaran Mulhern’s original piledriver rebounded for Ronan Murphy to convert but the goal was disallowed for off-side.

The Connacht Champions finally found their form with Murphy, Mulhern and Nolan all impressing.

The Wexford defence was finally broken on the half hour mark as Holy Rosary College grabbed a vital goal back through a Conor French set-piece. Ciaran Mulhern getting a vital touch as the ball bounced deceivingly past the far post leaving the lively Shay O’Leary stunned.

With two minutes of additional time in the first half played, Shay O’Leary pulled off a magnificent save to deny Ciaran Mulhern his second as Wexford went 2-1 up at the break. 

Jesse Dempsey was more prominent in the second half with his pace down the left wing as he combined well with Harnett and Mackey.

Mountbellew’s Ronan Murphy was through on goal just before the hour mark when he was taken down by goalkeeper Shay O’Leary outside the box. The match official brandishing a straight red which saw O’Leary exit the field.

Wexford then made a substitution which saw goalkeeper Shane Carroll introduced for Luc Farrell.

Following the resumption of play, the resulting free kick saw Mountbellew convert the equaliser with a fantastic Ryan NOLAN special.

Mountbellew were now on the front foot with thirty minutes to play and looked to make the most of the numeric advantage.

Wexford CBS showed immense character as it didn’t look like they were a man down as they attacked and defended superbly.

Both teams played some exceptional football but just couldn’t infiltrate the killer blow.

The game looked like it was going to extra-time and penalties, but super sub-Rory GILBERT netted a low drive in the 93rd minute to give Wexford CBS the lead. 

You’d think that was the match winner but no, the drama continued as two minutes later, Mountbellew thought they had the game levelled again. Conor French scored but the match official chalked it off as the player handed the ball in the build up to the goal.

Moments later, the final whistle sounded to give Wexford CBS their first National Cup title. A wonderful tribute to the Whitty Fanning combo following many years of service to the School teams. Two previous National Cup defeats to St. Joseph’s Patrician College, Galway at Minor and First Year level saw it third time lucky for the Leinster starlets.

Holy Rosary College was enjoying a debut season at Seniors having contested Cup campaigns at First Year level over recent years. The momentum will be with Michéal O’Donnell and Alan Cunneen now to defend their Connacht title next season and perhaps go one step further. 

WEXFORD CBS | Shay O’Leary ©, Brandon Stafford, Jesse Dempsey, Ben English, Tadhg Brohan, Connor Mackey, Kaylem Harnett, Darragh Byrne Maloney, Darby Purcell, Sam Norval, Luc Farrell

SUBS USED | Shane Carroll for Farrell (60),Rory Gilbert for Stafford (75), Ben Harpur for Byrne Maloney (96)

SUBS NOT USED | Conor Maher, Kaelem O’Connor

EXTENDED SQUAD | Cormac Mythen, Ryan Gavin, Liam Donoghue, Darragh Kirwan, Conor Mullan, Liam Dempsey, Tadhg Hayes, Dean Hillis, Jakub Wasilewski, Fili Wasilewski, Oscar Ramsey.

TEACHERS | Padraig Whitty, John Fanning

HOLY ROSARY COLLEGE, MOUNTBELLEW | Rory Walsh, Conor Byron, Ian Fahy, Conor French, Tomás Miskell, Ciaran Nolan, Aironas Kantauskas, Tiarnán Proulx, Ciaran Mulhern, Ryan Nolan, Ronan Murphy ©

SUBS USED | Cuan Lennon for Byron (85)

SUBS NOT USED | Seán Lohan, Michael Flattery, Shane Duffy, Jack Connolly

EXTENDED SQUAD | Ronan Kelly, Colm Haverty, Shane Flesk, Rory O’Reilly, Tony Shields

TEACHERS | Michéal O’Donnell, Alan Cunneen, Tessa Mullins

MATCH OFFICIAL | Niall McLoughlin (Dublin)