LEINSTER SENIOR ‘A’ HC SEMI-FINAL: DUBLIN NORTH 3-12 KILKENNY CBS 0-18
NORTH INTO PROMISED LAND
Goals make difference as Dubs will face champs in decider
FOLLOWING their outstanding victory against Kilkenny CBS at the Laois GAA Training Centre last Saturday, Dublin North will face reigning champions St Kieran’s in the Leinster Schools Senior Hurling ‘A’ Championship decider.
Cian Derwin, Conor Berrigan and Billy Ryan all registered goals for Paul O’Brien’s side, which helped to see off the stern challenge of Kilkenny CBS. The dead-ball accuracy of Conor Drennan kept their Marble County opponents in contention right up until the final whistle, but with Micheal Murphy also in excellent form throughout, it was North who eventually progressed from this penultimate round affair.
The Metropolitans can now look forward to a Top Oil Corn Ui Dhuill final meeting with Kieran’s on Saturday week (February 24), in a venue that is yet to be determined.
They will more than likely be underdogs against the Noreside kingpins, who currently hold an astonishing 54 titles at this grade. They have also collected 14 All-Ireland crowns within the past 30 years, helping to cement their reputation as Ireland’s premier schools hurling nursery.
Yet, because their status as a combined outfit prevents them from advancing beyond the provincial stages, North will be fully focused on the task at hand.
Dublin minor of last year Lee Gannon is a key attacking figure for North, and he played a major role in their blistering start to Saturday’s semi-final. Inside the opening five minutes, the impressive centre-forward created opportunities for Berrigan and Derwin, who both found a way past stranded Kilkenny netminder David McCormack.
Murphy’s also contributed three points over the course of the first half, when North were facing into a stiff breeze. However, with Drennan’s 0-8 haul being complimented by a brace of Joe Sheehan scores, CBS brought a slender 0-10 to 2-3 cushion into the break.
The Sky Blues were in a far better position at the midway point in this contest than they were for their quarter-final meeting 12 months ago, though. On that occasion, an eighth-point interval deficit (0-14 to 0-6) had left them with too much ground to make up against CBS.
The introduction of Ryan offered a new lease of life to their 2018 campaign, as he secured a third goal for North within seconds of the resumption.
Sean Currie joined his partners on the inside line – Berrigan and Derwin – on the scoresheet as the half progressed, while the reliable Andrew Dunphy and Kevin Burke once again proved to be largely impenetrable at the heart of the Dublin defence.
A six-point advantage (3-9 to 0-12) placed North in the driving seat at the beginning of the final quarter, until Drennan responded with a series of placed-ball efforts. North held their nerve in the closing moments, however, as Murphy and Ryan points sealed a stunning triumph for the combination side.
This will be North’s first-ever appearance in the Leinster Hurling showpiece, though a Dublin Colleges side (that represented the whole of the county) were winners of the competition in 2001 and 2008. Kieran’s will compete in an eighth consecutive final, and despite coming under pressure from St Peter’s, Wexford in their last-four encounter, David O’Carroll and Adrian Mullen goals guided them towards a 2-13 to 2-8 success.
Scorers – Dublin North: M Murphy 0-6 (4f, 1 ’65’), C Derwin 1-2, C Berrigan, B Ryan 1-1 each, S Currie 0-2. Kilkenny CBS: C Drennan 0-13 (12f), J Sheehan 0-3, C Timmons, S Staunton 0-1 each.
DUBLIN NORTH: J Rooney; J Fagan, A Dunphy, T Kinnane; D Phelan, K Burke, C Scully; M Murphy, S Foran; S Clerkin, L Gannon, S Farrelly; C Berrigan, S Currie, C Derwin. Subs: B Ryan for Farrelly, E O’Donnell for Scully, L Foley for Foran.
KILKENNY CBS: D McCormack; M Byrne, B Lawlor, M Butler; L Hogan, L Stynes, C Timmons; S Staunton, J Sheehan; O Murphy, C Drennan, C Heary; J Ryan, T Butler, S Kenny. Subs: S Boyd for Kenny, J Dwyer for Hogan.
Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).