BY KIERAN McCARTHY
HAMILTON High School’s eye for goal could yet power them towards the last four of the Corn Uí Mhuirí.
The Bandon school have reached the quarter-finals of the Munster colleges’ senior A football championship for the first time and take on Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig in a last-eight tie next Wednesday.
En route to this stage, the Hammies have hit a red-hot scoring streak, racking up 11 goals in two games as they topped Group D ahead of Tralee CBS and Skibbereen Community School.
They scored five second-half goals in a thrilling comeback win, 5-6 to 2-13, against Tralee CBS, while they blew Skibbereen away, 6-9 to 1-5, and Hammies manager John O’Sullivan knows that their goal power could be a deciding factor on Wednesday.
‘We do have two or three guys who have a good eye for goal and they have taken their chances – but going for goal is not a strategy by us, it’s just the way it has worked out,’ O’Sullivan said.
‘We needed the goals against Tralee because we were so far behind and it was goals that brought us back into that game.
‘Against Skibbereen, it was a wet and windy day, not ideal for kicking from distance so the strategy that day was to carry the ball, and from that goals came.’
Conor Calnan (3), Fionn Herlihy (3), Philip Wall, Darragh O’Shea, Bertie Butler, Sean Barry and Cullen Barry have all been amongst the goals for the West Cork school that is also through to the semi-final of the Simcox Cup; they take on Coláiste Chríost Rí the following Monday, January 22nd.
What’s interesting from their Simcox form is, again, the high scoring, hitting 3-16 against Patrician Academy and 2-16 versus St Colman’s, and an attack including Conor Calnan (Bandon), Philip Wall (Kilbrittain), Aaron O’Leary (Valley Rovers), Darragh O’Shea (Valleys), Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys) and Bertie Butler (Kilbrittain) means business. What also helps is the age profile of this team, there’s a good spread with players from fourth, fifth and sixth years all involved, with the latter Leaving Certs providing the core of the team – Cathal Mangan (Ahán Gaels), Paul Lang (Bandon), Rory Maguire (Castlehaven), captain Gearóid O’Donovan (Newcestown), Tomás Sheehan (Kilbrittain), Cathal Mangan, Ahán Gaels, as well as Wall, Butler and Calnan.
They’ll need that experience and know-how against a Coláiste Choilm team that finished second in Group B, beating DLS Macroom and Clonakilty Community College along the way.
‘They’re a strong team with some outstanding players,’ O’Sullivan noted.
‘We are at the stage now where every team is very good so if we drop our standards or our work-rate any bit, we will get caught, so we are keeping our feet on the ground. In fairness, the lads are a mature group, they have steady heads.’
O’Sullivan acknowledges that a near perfect performance is required to reach the semi-finals, against either St Flannan’s or Tralee CBS, and that the Hammies need to keep it tight at the back and take their chances – and he has seen enough to believe that their Corn Uí Mhuirí adventure still has plenty of twists and turns.