Milltown GAA pitch on the afternoon of 10 April was the scene for an extraordinary 1st year championship decider between SJC and league champions St. Colman`s of Claremorris.
Watched keenly by parents, teachers, fellow students and even local GAA patrons the young players on the pitch gave an exhibition of footballing quality and commitment that utterly belied their youth. Indeed, despite the heartbreak that greeted them on the final whistle the Mayo lads can be justly proud too of their efforts in narrow defeat that forced the Jarlath`s boys to summon up reserves of resilience that are completely in keeping with the school`s footballing tradition.
The opening 10 minutes was largely nip-and-tuck but, with the aid of the breeze, Colman`s hit 2-3 in five minutes that saw them wrest control of the game and indeed a palmed goal prior to half-time from SJC captain Keith Boyle would ultimately prove very significant for the Jarlath`s boys later on.
The beginning of the second period nonetheless witnessed a further surge from Colman`s whose lead stood at a commanding 3-8 to 1-4 with 20 minutes remaining.
Thereafter, the tide of the game turned completely. A Jarlath`s forward line that had been free-scoring in the two previous rounds had been largely shackled on this day; however their perseverance and hard work was about to bear fruit. Corner forward Rossa Ryan essentially took the decider by the scruff of the neck with a staggering contribution of 2-6 in the closing minutes. This spell included 4 nervelessly despatched placed balls. Coinciding with a renewed rearguard action, Jarlath`s reeled in the deficit to the point where Rossa`s final score with a minute remaining saw Jarlath`s hit the front for the first time in 50 minutes of action.
The final whistle arrived following some heart-stopping moments of end-to-end action. In the midst of frenzied Jarlath`s celebrations, understandable given the inherent drama of the win, it wasn`t forgotten that this was very tough on a valiant Colman`s team. It was therefore pleasing that Keith Boyle`s mature speech acknowledged this point.
In the final analysis, this was a hugely satisfying campaign for a Jarlath`s 1st year team full of resilience, talent and graft. In overcoming the loss of three of their first four league games, the young boys championship win was made all the sweeter- an achievement to make the school community proud. Photos.