For the twenty-third straight year, Drumshanbo Vocational School made a strong mark before exiting this year’s All-Ireland Cadette A Boys Volleyball competition.
Pres Fethard bt Drumshanbo VS 25-14 23-25 25-22
Fethard coach Justin McGree said it was the first team he had met this year that had scared him. Later on that day, the best Fethard team that Drumshanbo has ever played advanced to their first ever Cadette A final. A big feature of Drumshanbo’s play was their fighting spirit when Fethard raced into leads at various times during the game.
The start of the game was a tense affair as both teams’ shared long and tense rallies for the opening points. Kevin Moran was very aware from the off as he got down low to save two certain winners, while Ciaran Walsh and the steady Owen Dolan combined well on the offensive as Drumshanbo took an early lead.
The lead shifted between the two teams with Barry McNama hitting the first of many winners until the Tipperary school got a devastating run of serves which catapulted them into a 15-10 lead, a deficit from which Drumshanbo never recovered. McNama and Michael McCormack tried vigorously to get their team back into the set with numerous good plays, but Drumshanbo never recovered their deadly play from the early minutes. Loss of concentration and indecision didn’t help Drumshanbo as they slumped to a 14-25 loss.
The second set saw a rejuvenated Drumshanbo side with hunger. Dolan hit a run of serves, captain Alan McTigue pounced at the net and Jordan Early, introduced late in the first set, hit a winner and fitted in well. Drumshanbo took a commanding 7-2 lead.
Fethard however, reacted strongly, drew close at 7-9 and every point was being contested to the full. Three consecutive winners from McNama, the introduction of Caleb Duffy, and a great block at the net from Kevin Moran kept Drumshanbo in the lead. Trailing 17-12, Fethard took a time out and an unlikely lead through a run of serves, to leave them 17-18 to the good.
Suddenly Drumshanbo were looking down the barrel of an early exit, and at 21-23 the result looked bleak.
But, “cometh the hour cometh the man”. The introduction of Wayne Reynolds late in the second set transformed his team as he brought a new element to the court. This gave Dolan the serve and for the 3rd time in the set he had a run, this time all the way to 25.
The deciding set saw two confident sides take to the court. Both teams knew that a win in this decisive set would give them passage to the All Ireland Semi Finals.
Fethard raced 3-0 ahead. Duffy hit the first ace for Drumshanbo in the third set, followed by a second and levelled. Fethard raced to 6-3 but Drumshanbo kept in touch and levelled again, thanks to Early, at 10-10. The lead was now switching hands almost constantly.
It looked like Fethard would lead at the 13 point side change but McNama served Drumshanbo ahead from 2 points behind. That was thought the pinnacle for Drumshanbo as another run of serving for Fethard gave them a 13-17 lead which later increased to 23-17.
Good control by McTigue and Reynolds restored order and Owen Dolan had a marvellous block. Kevin Moran came back on, hit a winner, and served 4 powerful serves in a row to set a thrilling finish. But Drumshanbo ran out as the closest of losers.
Serves: Moran (3rd year) 8, McNama 12, Earley 5, Dolan 15, McCormack 1, Walsh 5, McTigue (captain) 2, Reynolds 1, Duffy 4, Tom Lavin, Fergal McWeeney, Jack Ozdobinski