Gonzaga College's hosting of a first year blitz on Friday was the first time in the school's 60-year history that a competitive hurling fixture took place on their grounds and it proved to be a major success.
Along with Gonzaga, other rugby strongholds, Templeogue College and Terenure College, took part with the aim of promoting hurling within the schools. Stone-splitting sunshine ensured a brilliant day for all the players and there were some wonderfully skilled performers on show for the supporters in attendance.
Unfortunately, Oatlands College were unable to enter a team so the planned format was changed at the last minute. It was decided that the tournament would be run on a round robin basis where each team played each other once and the top two sides would meet in the final.
First up were the hosts, who faced off against Templeogue. Both teams spent time settling into a rhythm and scores were hard to come by in the opening half. Gonzaga's Peter Herlihy, fresh from his stint as captain of the successful Kilmacud Crokes Féile-winning side, continued in a rich vein of form with some lovely scores.
Templeogue were well in it at the break and they could boast of having one of the finest hurlers in the tournament in the shape of midfield man Chris Bennett. He responded with his side's first score to ensure they remained in touch.
However, it was to be their only score of the game as a goal from Conor Gowing just after the break meant Gonzaga went into a five-point lead. This was quickly followed up by another Herlihy point to put his team in a commanding position that they would not relinquish. JJ O'Shea split the posts with a fine effort at the death to seal a 1-6 to 0-1 victory.
Templeogue were then forced to quickly regroup and prepare for their do-or-die fixture against a physically imposing Terenure College side. Unfortunately for them, they got off to the worst possible start when Terenure full-forward Paul Tonge found the back of the net in the opening minute of the game.
But Temple' fought back and that boy Bennett was once again leading the charge. He grabbed a fine brace in as many minutes to move them to within a point of their opponents. The game then became very tight as the teams appeared nervous not to concede but Terenure's star man Evan McDonald scored two points of his own to regain the one-goal advantage heading into the break.
Templeogue were visibly tired in the second half as the first game coupled with the high temperatures ensured they were fighting an uphill battle. Credit must be given to Terenure, though, as they closed out the game with little fuss.
Daire Kerr and Tonge scored a point apiece. But it was left to McDonald to light up the game when with little or no options available; he unleashed a ferocious 30-yard shot into the roof of the net to leave the full-time score reading 2-4 to 0-2.
It all meant that the final round robin game between Terenure and Gonzaga would double up as the final since Templeogue had no chance of catching either.
Terenure College: A Holmes, A Griffin, B Bobbett, C Seery, D Kerr, D Marshall, D Dempsey, E Nagle, E McDonald, G Crowley, J Teahan Burke, J Gantley, M Caffrey, M Haddock, N Sudway, O Shortt, O Wigglesworth, P Tonge, R Murray, T Gleeson, J McCabe, G O'Reilly, J Gantley, L O'Dea.
Gonzaga College SJ: S Crowe, H Barry, S Crossan, J Daly-Devereux, C Fitzmaurice, R Geraghty, C Gowing, P Herlihy, E Kane, C Maguire, H McVeigh, D Meenan, C Murray, J O'Connor, JJ O'Shea, P Traynor, K White.
Templeogue College: C Hannigan, E Brophy, S Mahon, S Lowney, S Byrne, C O'Neill, K McMahon, C Bennett, C Brady, R Fitzgerald, E Fitzgibbon, M Corcoran, P Cooke, R Doyle, R Corcoran, O Soper.