Rice show their class with second half stormer

All Ireland PPS SFC A Semi-Final; Rice College 0-13 Naas CBS 1-7

School days are for a lot of people full of memories they can look back on fondly or awkwardly later on in life.

After what happened in Padraig Pearses GAA sounds just outside of Ballinasloe on Friday - there is one more great memory to be remembered fondly for the brave young men from Rice College and potentially and even better one to me made in two weeks time when they hit for Croke Park.

The full time whistle was greeted with a mighty roar and and the storming of the field in a cloud of blue smoke from the small band of fevered Rice College supporters who had perched themselves on the small hill behind the clubhouse goal of the ground.

The came full of song, cheer and devilment, with hand painted posters of players and management gleefully held aloft amongst the many hands who were playing every ball with their schoolmates out on the field.

On the field - Rice College showed tenacity, bravery and self belief in abundance as they over came the early nerves that had seen them fall three points behind early doors and looking like they could be about to head out of this competition - to turn on the style in the second half and run out deserving winners.

After falling behind by three inside five minutes, Rice College kept their composure to ride out the quick fire start by their opponents from Kildare and went about their business, with Keith Joyce getting the scoreboard moving in the right direction, quickly followed by a fine effort from Patrick Chambers and ten minutes they were level through Joyce’s quick-fire finish under pressure.

The Leinster champions edged themselves in front again on 13 minutes through a long range score from wing back Cathal Daly off the outside of his boot.

The first goal chance of the day fell to the Westport side when Stephen Loftus found some space in behind the CBS cover, but his well hit shot was beaten away by the boot of goalkeeper David Morrisey.

The Kildare side went into a two point lead just before the 20 minute mark thanks to an excellently worked score that was finished off by Colm Joyce from close range.

Cillian Henry kicked Rice Colleges fourth point of the day on 26 minutes, with his score sandwiched between efforts from Loftus and Joyce that bounced away to safety off the top of the bar.

The next score of the game was a big one and it went to the Kildare outfit after Tony O’Connor burst though the heart of the Rice College defence and hammered the ball past Cian Kennedy from 14 yards out to put his side four clear.

The Mayo side rallied strongly before the end of the half and centre-half-back Eoghan McLaughlin - who put in an inspirational display hammered the ball over the bar to close the gap back to three points at the break.

Rice College changed things up at the start of the second half, posting Pat Lambert in front of the Naas goal and the change worked a treat.

Lambert put in a tour-de-force performance in the final 30 minutes, helping himself to five points and leading from the front, winning ball after ball that was delivered into him.

Rice College reeled off seven unanswered points in the third quarter fo the game, with Lambert kicking five of them along with scores from Loftus and brilliant effort from Mark Moran who was able to direct the ball over the bar despite being fouled at the same time.

That rally of points put Rice into a 0-12 to 1-5 lead with time ticking down. Naas CBS hit back with a point from substrate Stephen Davis to close the gap back to just three with nine minutes to go.

The Leinster champions almost got in for a goal seven minutes from time, but Luke Griffin pulled his effort wide of the post under pressure - to the approval of the Rice College fans behind that goal.

The Westport lads stretched the lead back out to four points with four minutes left on the clock thanks to Joyce’s well time run and flick over the bar - but they weren’t home and hosed just yet.

Griffin tapped over a free just before the end of normal time and then word went out that there was to be four agonising minutes of injury time to be played.

A goal would send this one to extra-time and it almost happened. Griffin looked to jink in from the right hand side, his progress was halted by Ray Walsh - just outside the edge of the area. The punishment for his foul, was a black card - but it far out weighed the chance of letting Naas in for a goal chance.

The resulting free saw Rice College plant as many bodies on the line as they could fit and when it was drilled low and true in their direction, they stood firm and kept their goal at bay and not long after the beautiful sound of the final whistle was the signal for the party to begin.

Scores

Rice College: Pat Lambert (0-5, 1f ) Keith Joyce (0-3 ), Patrick Chambers (0-1 ), Cillian Heaney (0-1 ), Eoghan McLaughlin (0-1 ), Stephen Loftus (0-1, 1f ), Mark Moran (0-1 )

Naas CBS: Tony O’Connor (1-0 ), Luke Griffin (0-3,1f ), Colm Joyce (0-2 ), Cathal Daly (0-1 ), Stephen Davis (0-1 )

Rice College: C Kennedy; L Dawson, R Brickenden, R Walsh; J Carney, E McLaughlin, M Brady; F McManamon, P Chambers; K Joyce, M Moran, L Tunney; S Loftus, P Lambert, C Heaney. Subs: C Calvey for Walsh (BC )

Naas CBS: D Morrisey; E Prizeman, C O’Gallchobhair, J Hamill; C Daly, J Sargent, B Stynes; I Blackburne, R Boran; B Keohe, T O’Connor, K Thompson; C Joyce, L Griffin, D Kirwin. Subs: A Deegan for Kirwin, S Davis for Thompson, L Broderick for Boran, H Carroll for Kehoe, M O’Bryne for Daly, J Lawlor for Carroll.

Ref: M McNally (Monaghan )

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