Two goals in the dying moments of a gripping contest saw Carndonagh Community School win the Danske Bank Markey Cup for the first time.
Carndonagh Community School 3-8 St Columba’s College, Stranorlar 1-10
Pictures by Chris Doherty
Carndonagh CS trailed for much of the contest, but a 53rd minute goal by Jonny Toye lit the touch paper for the Inishowen men. Substitute Toye surged through and an attempt to stroke the ball over the bar deceived Cian Gallen, the St Columba’s goalkeeper, dropping into the far corner.
There was more than a hint of good fortune about the goal, but there had been nothing lucky about Toye’s build-up play and a point by Ciaran Doherty, who might well have gone for goal, put Carndonagh in front for the first time since the 12th minute.
By now, the finishing post was in sight and, with darkness descending under the Cathedral’s spire, they got in for the coup de grace as Conor O’Donnell – who scored 1-6 on an excellent display – finished a move started by Lee McLaughlin to bring glory to Carndonagh CS, who saw McLaughlin rattle the net in the opening period.
St Columba’s, aided by Corrie-Lee Bogan’s goal in the 16th minute, led 1-7 to 1-4 at half-time, though there was some confusion about the scoreline during the interval.
A shot mid-way through the half by St Columba’s Oisin Gallen appeared to have been registered as a score and went up on the scoreboard, but referee Sean Curran confirmed at the break that it hadn’t been tallied. The absence of umpires for an Ulster final was both glaring and disappointing and certainly reflected shabbily on what ought to have been an occasion of more prestige.
After McLaughlin fisted off the crossbar, when the St Columba’s defence parted before him, St Columba’s tacked on two quick fire scores from Bogan and Oisin Gallen.
The Stranorlar scholars had been given a warning shot when McLaughlin teed up Daniel Houghton for a pop at goal. His initial attempt was blocked and a St Columba’s defender managed to get in the way of Mikey Friel’s follow-up.
Carndonagh broke their duck in style in the form of a tenth minute goal. McLaughlin weaved his way into position and his finish was exquisite, looping over and beyond Cian Gallen.
Conor O’Donnell added a free to put Carndonagh two up, but the St Columba’s response was excellent.
Backed by the heaving wind, St Columba’s scored 1-5 in the next seven minutes.
The goal arrived through a bit of persistence. Conor Bonner should have scored, but shot straight at Daniel McCallion from close range. The rebound by Gallen was well blocked by Ultan Doherty, but Bogan made no mistake, planting firmly into the bottom corner.
Joseph McGill curled over three points and Bogan made light of the elements to curl over in style, making it a five-point game as St Columba’s took control.
Carndonagh had chances to significantly eat into the deficit, but O’Donnell shot off target and Lorcan Bradley arrowed off the outside of an upright when he went for power rather than precision.
A brace of O’Donnell frees and a tidy Brendan Doherty point had Carndonagh within four, but Gallen’s free, with the final kick of the half, put St Columba’s 1-7 to 1-4 ahead at the changeover.
Both sides put up big scores in their semi-final wins, with Carndonagh seeing off St Joseph’s of Donaghmore 1-18 to 5-4 while a second-half scoring spree took St Columba’s away from St Patrick’s from Keady for a 3-16 to 2-10 win.
O’Donnell clipped over two frees after the re-start, but they were sandwiched between scores by Jamie Keegan and Paddy Dolan as St Columba’s, now with the breeze swirling into their nostrils, preserved their advantage.
St Columba’s scored just three points in the second half and were scoreless for the last 14 minutes as Carndonagh staged a late comeback.
O’Donnell’s scoring and the influence of their replacements were key for Carndonagh, who also saw Luke Mullins superbly curb the influence of Gallen on a historic afternoon.
Carndonagh Community School: Daniel McCallion; Sean Byrne, Luke Mullins, Ultan Doherty; Brendan Doherty (0-1), Donal Doherty, Darren Donaghy; Oisin McGonagle, Gavin McDaid; Lee McLaughlin (1-0), Conor O’Donnell (1-6, 6f), Oisin Hession; Lorcan Bradley, Daniel Houghton, Mikey Friel. Subs: Anthony Doherty for U.Doherty (16), Ciaran Doherty (0-1) for Friel (23), Jonny Toye (1-0) for Bradley (40), Fionn McClure for Hession (51).
St Columba’s College, Stranorlar: Cian Gallen; Aaron Gillooley, Ciaran Foy, Conor Patton; John Moore, Luke Gavian, Joe Boyle; Paddy Dolan (0-1f), Chad McSorley (0-2); Joseph McGill (0-3), Oisin Gallen (0-2, 1f), Jamie Keegan (0-1); Conor Bonner, Corrie-Lee Bogan (1-1), Darragh McMenamin. Subs: Matthew Doherty for Bonner (41), Jack Burke for McMenamin (60).
Referee: Sean Curran (Derry).