The February 2017 winners of the Rebel Óg Monthly Awards sponsored by the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs, Cummins Sports (Award Sponsors) with RedFM and The Evening Echo (Media Partners) are ST. COLMAN’S COLLEGE, FERMOY HURLERS. They follow January 2017 winners Kiltha Óg
St. Colman’s College, Fermoy, Winners of The Dean Ryan Cup for the 12th Time
St. Colman's Dean Ryan panel began the year on the back of winning the Cork Colleges u16 competition last year. As a group most of the players have been working hard over the past 4 years with the goal of improving as hurlers and the hope of winning the Dean Ryan competition. Each week of the school year the boys train twice a week on either the field or in the ball alleys. The emphasis is on skills, discipline and hard work.
This year’s panel was comprised of 47 players representing 11 different local clubs. The group were captained by brothers Brian and Eoin Roche from Bride Rovers and coached by Jimmy Condon, Garvan Queeny and Anthony Spillane with additional help from Denis Walsh. Liam Barry of B&H tree services has been a great support to the team over the past 4 years, helping to provide the extras that have helped the boys to be successful.
This year’s training began back in August and a series of successful challenge matches followed against the likes of Our Lady's Templemore, St Kierans, Kilkenny and Nenagh CBS in September. There proved to be fierce competition for places on the starting 15 and match day 20 and this helped to increase the intensity of training sessions.
Colman's were drawn against De La Salle, Waterford in the quarter final of the Dean Ryan competition. The game was played on the 5th of October in Clonmel and refereed by Noel Cosgrave. It was a very close affair with De la Salle employing a sweeper system, which proved difficult to break down. Despite the mild weather conditions a strong breeze into the town end made it a game of two half's. At the end of 60 minutes both sides could not be separated. In extra time Colman's proved to be the fitter and hungrier side and ended up victorious by 3 points on a score of 0-21 to 1-15 at the end of extra time. A brilliant display from James Kearny in the half forward line and David Morisson in the full forward line proved crucial for Colman's as did a fine save from Goalkeeper Ben Hogan at the death.
In the semi-final on the 19th of October Colman's faced a side from John the Baptist Hospital who had beaten St Flannan's in the previous round by 19 points. Again the game was a tight affair. It was played on a lovely surface in Golden and the weather was favourable for hurling. The match was well refereed by Tipperary referee Fergal Horgan. Despite a powerful start Colman's left the Limerick side back into the game in the middle of the first half. However a goal just before half time from Castlelyons' James Kearny gave the Fermoy side a crucial cushion for the remainder of the game. Despite sustained pressure the St. Colman's full backline of Luke Aherne, Jack Scannell and Jordan Mannix stood up to the pressure put on them in the last 10 minutes of the game. At full time Colman's were victorious by a score of 3-12 to 1-12 and had reached their first Dean Ryan final for 14 years.
The Dean Ryan final was played in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on Saturday 12th of November in front of a large crowd. It was referred by Damien Fox from Clare, and proved to be a titanic battle between two powerful sides. Despite some excellent free taking form Conleith Ryan and 1-1 from David Morisson the game was level at full time. Exceptional performances from Eoin Roche and Eoin Carey in extra time ensured Colman's would live to fight another day. The sides couldn't be separated and the game ended in a draw on a score line of Colman's 1-19, Thurles CBS 3-13.
The replay was played the following Saturday 19th of November at the same venue. Refereed by Donncha O' Callaghan from Limerick it proved to be a tense but entertaining affair. Colman's seemed capable of soaking up everything that Thurles threw at them. Brian Roche and Jack Kenny were in inspiring form on the day. Towards the end of the game a Dylan O Connor goal proved to be a decisive score for the Fermoy side as they went on to secure their first Dean Ryan trophy in 14 years and go joint top of the roll of honour with Flannans and Thurles with 12 victories. Captains Brian and Eoin Roche accepted the cup on behalf of the panel on the steps of the Mick Mackey stand in front of a large jubilant Colman's following.
The adventure continued with an All-Ireland semi-final the following weekend with a meeting against Connacht champions Gort CS. The game was refereed by Tipperary's Fergal Horgan in very cold conditions. It was a tense and cagey affair between two incredibly hard working sides. In a game where scores proved hard to come by Dylan O'Connor with 1-1, Conleith Ryan with 0-5 and David Morisson with 0-3, Brian Roche with 0-2 and James Molloy and Eoin Carey with 0-1 accounted for all of Colman's total of 1-13. The Fermoy school ended up victorious by 4 points and were aided by a strong performance from goalkeeper and full back line on the day.
This victory set up an appetising All Ireland final against reigning champions St. Kieran's of Kilkenny. Having beaten the Kilkenny side earlier in the year in a practice match the Colman's lads were well aware that a greater challenge would await come championship. And so unfortunately it proved to be.
The final was played in front of a crowd of over 2500 in Clonmel and was referred by Carlow native Patrick Murphy. On a lovely sunny day conditions were as good as could be expected at this time of the year. Colman's started the game well with two early scores but then allowed Kieran's take a foothold in the middle of the half. Despite this a goal from Padraig O'Leary and battling performances around the field ensured that Colman's reached half time with a 2 point lead. This lead would be extended to 4 early in the second half. However the Kilkenny school would take advantage of a second wind that the Colman's boys struggled to find on their fourth weekend of action in a row. The game was always in the balance as Colman's dug deep to find an equalising score but it never came and Kieran's retained the All Ireland trophy by 3 points on a score of 2-12 to 1-12. Interestingly on the day 2 players from Kieran's Eoin Cody and Ciaran Brennan accounted for all but 2 points of the St. Kieran's total, proving to ultimately be the difference between both sides on the day.
Despite losing narrowly in the All Ireland final to a very strong St. Kieran's side the story of this St. Colman's team is one of improvement and achievement. Progress has been made. Colman's now sit joint top of the Dean Ryan Roll of Honour with 12 titles. This group of players bridged a 14 year gap in winning the colleges first Dean Ryan in that period. It is the first Dean Ryan won by the college since boarding ended and was achieved by a group of players from exclusively the local feeder clubs. Importantly though there is unfinished business and hopefully this group of players will continue to build and improve with a view towards earning the right to not only compete for future Harty Cups, but also to get another shot at beating St. Kieran's in the All Ireland series.
The St. Colman’s College, Fermoy Hurling Team
Winners of the 2016 Dean Ryan Cup
Quote from Jimmy Condon, Coach
"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen". Our mantra was simply "Make it Happen." In other words we spoke about taking responsibility ourselves to ensure we would do everything within our control to achieve our aims for the year. It has been a pleasure working with such a hard-working, disciplined and dedicated group of players. Along with that the coaching team worked really well together and the support from the college from management and pupils was second to none. Finally I would like to acknowledge the tremendous help that our sponsor Liam of B&H tree services have given us over the years and thank him sincerely for that."
Quote from Veronica O Donoghue – College Principal
"Winning the Dean Ryan is a tremendous honour for St. Colman’s and a testament to the skill and ability of the players and the huge commitment of their coaches as well as demonstrating the schools ongoing commitment to the game of hurling."
Quote from Captain Brian Roche (Bride Rovers)
“This success meant so much to myself and my team mates as we have been together for 3-4 years and we have worked so hard for this. It was great to win it as Colmans’ with such a hurling tradition and we had not won it since 2003.”
Quote from Captain Eoin Roche (Bride Rovers)
“It was great to bring the Dean Ryan cup back to Colman’s as it brought a huge lift to the school. This was seen with our success of the Harty cup later in the year.”