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20th May 2019

Surely the greatest GAA comeback of all-time in Leinster schools semi-final today

Niall McIntyre

The first years of Enniscorthy CBS were singing songs about Istanbul on the way home.

Forget Istanbul because what happened on a windless day in Clonad GAA in Portlaoise puts even Liverpool’s class of 2005 in the shade.

It’s the Leinster schools ‘B’ first year semi-final between Enniscorthy CBS and Coláiste Choilm Tullamore and to put it lightly, the Wexford school are a little bit slow to get going.

“We were terrible in the first half,” says the team manager Peter Devine to SportsJOE.

“We couldn’t get going and to be fair to them, they took their chances well…”

5-11 to 0-0 reads the half-time score. That’s an unassailable 26 point deficit. The Enniscorthy dressing room is a grim enough place at the break but Devine and his joint manager Pierce Doyle tell their team to forget about the score and to go out there and give it a lash.

Coláiste Choilm’s dressing room is a sanctuary in comparison. They’re on fire and as you would expect, they decide to take off a few players to rest them for the final in a couple of weeks.

Every management team would have done the same.

The second half is a different animal though.

“It was absolutely crazy, unbelievable,” says Devine. “It was the polar opposite to the first half when the ball was down our end for the whole 30 minutes…Our lads were on fire…”

This time it was the Tullamore end that was against the head.

So Enniscorthy knock in a few goals. James Murray and Ben Astel take over the game and the Offaly school are beginning to get a bit worried.

They bring back on the players they’d taken off but it’s too late.

“All the momentum was with our lads and they just couldn’t get back into it. James and Ben must have got eight goals between the two of them but they were all brilliant. They never gave up, kept fighting and when they got close they took their chances…It has to be some sort of GAA record!”

From 26 points down, Enniscorthy came back with no fewer than 11 goals and a point for good measure to take this game by four points in the end.

And there wasn’t a breath of wind in Portlaoise.

Into the final they bound, Devine jokes that they’ll give Ashbourne a 20 point head-start then.

For now, the Enniscorthy young lads are roaring their bus down on the trip from Portlaoise to Wexford.

“Very proud of them, it’s some achievement!”

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