Main sponsor:

8th March 2024

Tarbert Comprehensive (Kerry) defeated St Malachy’s Castlewellan (Down) by 3-19 to 4-13 after extra time in the 2024 Masita GAA Post Primary Schools ‘C’ Dr. Eamonn O Sullivan Cup Final on Saturday March 9th at Netwatch Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow.

Tarbert Comprehensive are All-Ireland SFC ‘C’ champions after extra-time win in rollercoaster final


Tarbert Comprehensive 3-19 St Malachy’s, Castlewellan (Down) 4-13

(after extra-time)

Report by John O’Dowd at Cullen Park, Carlow for the Kerryman newspaper

In the rollercoaster to top all rollercoasters, Tarbert Comprehensive were forced to go from ecstasy to agony, and back to ecstasy again, before finally getting their hands on the Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan Cup following this absolute epic against St Malachy’s from Castlewellan.

This All-Ireland ‘C’ senior football final between the North Kerry school and their Down opponents turned into a game for the ages at Dr Cullen Park in Carlow, with the eventual winners being put through the wringer before sealing an extra-time triumph.

When John Coolahan rattled home Tarbert’s second goal in the 43rd minute, their blistering third quarter burst had been given what appeared to be the coup de gras. From level pegging at the break to an eleven-point cushion, 2-13 to 0-8, the Kingdom representatives were home and dry.

Or so everybody thought. Taidgh O’Hanlon’s green flag for St Malachy’s two minutes later was surely just a consolation score from the clearly rattled Mourne youngsters. Entering the final quarter, they were eight points in arrears and, to all intents and purposes, with no way back.

Unbelievably, however, a tiring Tarbert, probably feeling that the destination of the spoils had been decided, totally lost their control of the contest. Growing in stature, with self-belief renewed, and strengthening, with each passing moment, St Malachy’s were inspired.

Substitute Daire Treanor slotted home a crisp finish in the 50th minute, and the gap was down to six. Then a mix-up in the Tarbert full-back line enabled a blossoming Eoghan Travers hammer the ball to the net from close range, 2-14 to 3-8, entering the closing minutes.

It was now the leaders who were feeling shell-shocked, and it got even worse when the Castlewellan school, amazingly, struck for the fourth goal in 14 minutes, through James Savage, in the 59th minute. A pointed mark by Travers soon followed, and, beggaring belief, St Malachy’s had hit the front.

A 12-point swing had virtually taken place in the blink of an eye, cutting Tarbert to the very core, but they refused to die. First half goalscorer Jamie Moloney forced a ‘45’, and outstanding captain Shaun Wren lofted over a superb placed ball to send this exhilarating affair to extra-time, 2-15 to 4-9.

The North Kerry school had dug in, commendably, against the wind in the first half, Moloney’s rebound green flag after Wren’s initial effort had been saved, allowing them to retire at half-time on level terms, 1-5 to 0-8, against an opposition propelled forward by the excellence of Ruairi Madine.

The Kilcoo inside attacker had been a thorn in the side of Tarbert Comprehensive from the outset, slotting over three points from play, and seeing a superb individual goal controversially brought back for a free in, in the 12th minute. John Coolahan had been similarly impressive at the other end.

With David Mulvihill switched onto Madine on the resumption, and the likes of Paudie Finucane at midfield, Patrick O’Connor, Coolahan, Wren and Caolam Moriarty sparkling up front, Tarbert ruled the roost in the second half, before that nerve-shredding late, late collapse.

Having blown a seven-point lead in the semi-final against Ballymahon of Longford, the North Kerry school were becoming used to nail-biting finales. How could they bounce back for extra-time on this occasion, however? Momentum was well and truly with St Malachy’s.

Ross Green, Corey Trainor, an improving O’Hanlon, Christopher Kelly McEvoy, Savage and Travers were now leading the way for the Down lads, and the sides couldn’t be separated either after the first ten added minutes, 2-18 to 4-12, Tarbert substitute Tadhg O’Connell with the pick of the points.

As is typical of extra-time, scores were now harder to come by, with the pressure rising, and the bodies beginning to wilt. It was going to take a moment of magic, or a defensive mistake, to finally break the deadlock. Or were we set to endure the torment of a penalty-shoot-out?

Thankfully, for Tarbert Comprehensive, John Coolahan took things by the scruff of the neck, once and for all, in the 76th minute. The towering Finucane caught a kick-out, replacement Darragh Mullane supplied the assist, and Coolahan did the rest, with a bullet of a right-footer that Callum Travers didn’t even see.

Now, with a four-point advantage, the winners were in no mood to commit another act of self-inflicted pain. Travers blasted over from close range for St Malachy’s but, with Mulvihill minding the house expertly, Tarbert’s game management was much, much better on this occasion.

When the final whistle was blown by referee David Hickey, one group of players jumped to the sky in exultation, the other side slumped to their knees in devastation. Such are the vagaries of sport. Such are the vagaries of a phenomenal, evenly-matched All-Ireland decider.

To the victor, the spoils, and it was left to Wren to send the Tarbert Comprehensive supporters into raptures of joy, when he accepted the winners’ trophy. Part of the ‘dynamic duo’ that proved crucial to ultimate success (he finished with 0-8, to man-of-the-match Coolahan’s 2-3), the captain stood tall throughout.

Mulvihill, Finucane, Callum Buckley, O’Connor and Moriarty were others to play very prominent roles, as Tarbert followed in the footsteps of St Pat’s Castleisland in keeping a piece of silverware, named after a famous Kerryman, residing in the county for another twelve months at least.

They won’t forget this one in a hurry.

TARBERT COMPREHENSIVE: Stephen Kearney (St Senans Foynes); Shane Stack (Tarbert), Callum Buckley (Athea), Michael Coolahan (Tarbert); James Kissane (Moyvane), David Mulvihill (Tarbert), Fionn Mulvihill (Moyvane); Brendan O’Leary (Tarbert), Paudie Finucane (Tarbert); Evan Curry (Athea), Shaun Wren (Tarbert) 0-8 (3f, 1m, 1 ’45’), Patrick O’Connor (Moyvane) 0-2; Jamie Moloney (Moyvane) 1-0, John Coolahan (Tarbert) 2-3 (0-1m), Caolam Moriarty (Tarbert) 0-5 (4f)
Subs: Tadhg O’Connell (Tarbert) 0-1 for F Mulvihill (37), Darragh Mullane (Gerald Griffins) for Curry (57), Matthew Quinn (Moyvane) for Kissane (61), Keelan Lonergan (Shannon Gaels) for O’Leary (70), Curry for Moloney (inj, 71).

ST MALACHYS CASTLEWELLAN: Callum Travers; Luke Brannigan, Ross Green 0-1, Shea Baker; Oisin Murray, Corey Trainor 0-1, Harry Keenan; Taidgh O’Hanlon 1-0, Christopher Kelly McEvoy 0-2 (1f); Manus Middleton, James Savage 1-0, Dalach McGreevy; Ruairi Madine 0-3, Eoghan Travers 1-6 (0-4f, 0-1m), Caolan Flanagan
Subs: Odhran McCann for Brannigan (ht), Daire Treanor 1-0 for Baker (46), Ryan McCourt for Middleton, inj (63).

REFEREE: David Hickey (Carlow).

Match Coverage

Match Programme

Pick up a copy of the Souvenir Match Programme for 3 euro.

Posted in: News

Date: 08th March 2024