THE Academy Senior First X1 bowed out of the Irish Schools semi final after a 5-3 defeat to deserved champions, St Andrew’s College, Dublin.
It was a tale of two halves with the Dublin kingpins storming to a 2-0 lead after just 15 minutes with the Academy inexperience and nerves clearly showing.
Two further goals conceded in the final two minutes of the half seemed to put the game beyond them at the interval.
But Coach Dawson wore his heart on his sleeve and gave some direct and justified criticism of the lack of desire required to win a title of this magnitude. He stressed the need for better communication and made several tactical changes to put the game back in the balance after half time.
This seemed to pay dividends and huge credit to all the squad as they dug into their physical reserves to pin it back to 4-1 after Rory Woods dragged home high into the St Andrews roof inside the opening 3 minutes.
This spurred the team on and they piled on the pressure and again more clumsy challenges on McCracken and McKee earned another corner. This again was dragged home by Woods and with the Academy in the ascendancy 4-2 soon became 4-3 as Clarke Neville again dragged home from another hard earned and eventually given set piece.
The St Andrew’s side defended like tigers and to their credit rode the wave of pressure being thrown at them using the aerial ball with great effect under the sternest of tests.
They settled again to prove the quality they have amongst their ranks and with just eight minutes remaining dealt their final ace in the shape of an excellence set piece to make it safer at 5-3.
The Academy persisted and gave everything they possibly could have for the badge but it simply wasn’t to be and St Andrews deservedly made it to their second final in three years. Here they faced Leinster rivals Wesley College running out with two well worked goals to win the title 3-1.
Huge credit to Thomas Sturgeon’s squad and coach Mr Dawson for carrying the flag once again as Ulsters only semi finalists. The best side in Ireland won the title, of that there is no doubt, and the Academy’s congratulations go to Ivan Ovington and the Andrews squad.
But from their point of view the experience gained against the best opposition possible will enhance our development and reflect the positives for all those who did so much to further the Academy name on a national stage.
The school’s thanks go to the loyal Academy fans who made the trip this morning, from young year 8 players all the way through to somewhat older faces all supporting our game and school.