Thursday, March 19, 2009

Andrew's boys on for All-Ireland double

St Andrew's remain on for a unique All-Ireland double as they qualified for a final shot against Cookstown as they look at add 'super-six' John Waring glory to last October's All-Ireland Schoolboys' championships.

A five-star performance against Bandon GS got them there after they drew 3-3 with Banbridge in Pool A's opening game. It was a character-building draw, responding well to the absence of Stephen Cole through injury as well as falling behind 2-0 when Ciaran Kelly and ace striker Stephen Dowds scored for Bann.

Sam O'Leary's double and a cracking mid-air dribble and score from Jamie Haughton put the Booterstown boys into the lead before Dowds levelled the game from the penalty spot with five minutes to go.

Bann beat Bandon - whose young star Darren Sweetnam was struggling severely with illness on the eve of the tournament - 4-1 meaning Andrew's needed to win by four clear goals to snatch a final place.

And they put themsleves on the precipice with three well-worked goals inside 14 minutes thanks to Sam O'Leary, Theo Kirwan and Fiachra Maher. The goals slowed up thereafter but David Cole got the crucial fourth six minutes into the second from a corner rebound.

Bandon did create chances to give the Saints a few jitters but Stephen West made a pair of solid saves to keep the advantage and O'Leary's last minute stroke confirmed their place.

In the other group, Cookstown now have a chance to avenge their group-stage exit in Limerick last October when St Andrew's denied them a semi-final place. They had a slightly easier passage to the final after the beat Wesley 2-1 in the tournament opener.

Carl Eggert had given the Leinster champions a half-time lead but the Ballinteer seemed to switch off in the second half letting Ian Sloan and Mark Crooks in to swing the tie the Tyrone school's way.

Cookstown subsequently drew with Ashton 2-2 to knock Wesley out. It meant Ashton could qualify with a two-goal win in the group's final game but found Wesley too hot to handle, scoring two goals in each half to win 4-0.

Classification schedule:
5th/6th playoff: Ashton vs Bandon GS, 10am
3rd/4th playoff: Wesley vs Banbridge Academy, 11.45am
Final: St Andrew's vs Cookstown HS, 3.15pm

* For more pictures from today's action, click here

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