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Naas aiming to take scalp in Masita Hogan Cup semi-final
By Damian Lawlor
Two years ago, Naas CBS wasnt even competing in Colleges A football but this weekend the schools senior players take to Mallow looking to make their first Hogan Cup final appearance.
To get into that decider they will have to take down one of the giants of the competitions recent vintage. Considering where they have come from the Kildare side brave the N7 roadworks and travel further south with the amazing feat of having back-to-back Leinster titles in the bag.
The work done over the past two seasons is paying off, says Mayo native and selector Shane McGuinness. There is good talent in the group, and it was the same last year. They work very hard and they are getting what they deserve.
CBS will welcome back one of their star players, Paddy McDermott, for the Hogan Cup semi-final. Kildare minor McDermott was injured for the Leinster final but will hope to reassume his attacking wing-back role.
His presence gives the team an extra dimension both in defence and attack.
Overall, though, its a confident CBS side that takes on Eamonn Fitzmaurices Munster champions PS Chorca Dhuibhne on Saturday afternoon. They recently endured a hard-fought extra-time Leinster final win over Wicklow schools and had to go to the bottom of the well to clear that hurdle.
We made hard work of it but its about getting results at the end of the day, said manager Ronan Joyce.
You come to finals to get results and Im just delighted. Delighted for the lads because they put in savage work. Seven months theyve put into that and training three or four times a week. When you work hard sometimes it comes off and today it definitely did.
Naas CBS conceded 1-1 from the 59th minute onwards allowing Wicklow Schools to force extra-time, but their superior fitness levels told in the final 20 minutes.
Some of the lads would have played last year and a few more would have been involved with the Kildare minors in 2018, selector McGuinness added. "I guess that gives them some good experience and stands to them on the big day.
We have had to wait a while to get the games out of the way so its been a waiting game. Colaiste Eoin were involved in the Leinster and All-Ireland hurling series so we had to delay our game with them before we could play out our provincial campaign, but the lads are eager and stayed focused too.
McGuinness says his school draws from clubs in and around Naas town but stretching out as far as Blessington. A lot of the side play hurling too; a game that is growing at a rapid rate around the area.
This year the hurlers exited their championship earlier than last year which was disappointing, McGuiness says. But it meant the lads could focus on football completely so the team has been completely concentrated on this competition. We know how hard it is to progress and we know that while we have a strong side, we have to do our best.
Paddy McDermott is expected to be available for Naas CBS' Hogan Cup semi-final.
Eventually, they qualified for the Masita Hogan Cup semi-final with that 2-12 to 1-9 win over the Wicklow amalgamation having dominated the early stages of the game and then the extra time period. On that night goals from Alex Beirne and sub Harry Carroll proved vital as they outscored their opponents by 2-3 to 0-3 to take the crown.
Indeed, Naas clubman Beirne finished with 1-3 for the victors, while Mikey McGovern and Eoin Conneff added 0-7 between them.
That win meant that, following last years maiden victory, Naas became the first school since St Pats, Navan in 2007 to string together back-to-back Br Bosco Cup crowns. I guess the thing is that we have pretty much a new Naas CBS team this year, McGuinness adds.
This side has just four survivors from the 2018 side.
David Morrissey in goal, our defenders Conall OGallchobhair and Jack Hamill and forward Tony OConnor.
We have had a good junior side as well in recent years and I would say that about 11 of them have stepped up onto this current senior panel.
After waiting for so long to complete their Leinster campaign they have had a short turnaround to facing the esteemed Munster champions who won the national title in 2014 and 2015 under Fitzmaurices watchful eye.
PS Chorca Dhuibhne should be the fresher side on Saturday after Naas survived 80 minutes of full-blooded action in the provincial final but the Kildare side will travel down the N7 extremely confident in their own ability and fully expecting to put it up to the reigning Munster champions who include such star talents as Dylan Gibheannaigh, Stiofan Conchir, Cathal Beaglaoich and Ruaidhr Beaglaoich.