An exciting and tense encounter was played out in the Showgrounds yesterday afternoon as Carndonagh Community School came from three goals down to take the win 4-3 from a dejected St. Louis CS, Kiltimagh with only a minute remaining.
Carndonagh CS 4 St Louis CS 3
The Connacht Champions had a whirlwind start to the big clash which saw them three one up at the interval but a purple patch from the Donegal stronghold late on saw them clinch the victory.
Fergal O’Hara’s side was composed on the ball and ruthless in front of goal as their talisman Jack O’Connor opened their account with a superb effort nine minutes in.
The goal-scorer then turned supplier as he whipped in a delightful cross into the box which Captain Mark Byrne managed to tap in for their second with 22 minutes played.
The hat-trick of goals was complete for the Kiltimagh side two minutes later when O’Connor netted his second and St. Louis’s third in remarkable fashion.
Former Schools’ International Kieran Farren who captured the Centenary Shield last season with the Republic of Ireland rallied his troops which also boasted three trialists from this season’s Schools International select with Corey McBride, Lee McLaughlin and Jack Doherty also featuring heavily for the reigning Champions.
The Carndonagh squad remained calm under the relentless pressure and their hard work paid off six minutes from the break as Corey McBride popped up to score a peach from distance, 3-1.
Conor O’Donnell could have brought them within one of the chasing pack but his header hit off the crossbar three minutes from the whistle as it ended 3-1 at the interval.
The momentum was with the Carndonagh side in the second period and the vital goal came four minutes in as Luke Rudden converted with a glancing header following a wonderful pass from Jack Doherty.
The Saint’s keeper Cian O’Reilly pulled off a marvellous save near the hour mark to deny Lee McLaughlin and Luke Rudden missed out ten minutes later as the ball just eluded the target.
Jack Doherty was then taken down in the box five minutes from time as Captain Kieran Farren stepped up to tap home from the penalty spot to make it all square.
Substitute Pearse McCarron thought he had it wrapped up two minutes later but the goal was disallowed for off-side.
However, it was to be Carndonagh’s day as the match winner came a minute from time when Fionn McClure snatched onto a loose ball from a corner which he sent flying to the top corner leaving O’Reilly with no chance.
Heartache for St. Louis Community School but absolute jubilation for the Carndonagh outfit.
Fergal O’Hara’s side will now focus their attention on the Tom Ticher Cup campaign which sees them pipped against Castlebar stalwarts St. Gerald’s College in the provincial decider in Solar21 Park, Castlebar at midday on Friday.
Carndonagh and the Rosses Community School are also in contention in the same Cup encounter in Ulster so both sides may meet again if their successful reign continues in the Junior grade. The Carn lads will do battle with the Rosses’ in Ballyare on Thursday afternoon with a 3.30pm kick off scheduled.
Martin Cavanagh’s dominance in this competition continues to grow momentum with his latest scalp. The Ulster challengers have made two appearances in the last three years at Senior level, and notably secured the National title on both occasions.
Can they continue this fantastic run of form in 2019 with another such success story? Only time will tell as they await the winners of the other semi-final which see Wexford CBS entertain Midleton CBS in the RSC, Waterford on Thursday afternoon at 1pm.
This season’s FAI Schools Dr. Tony O’Neill Senior National Cup Final will take place on Wednesday, March 20 at 1pm. Venue to be confirmed.
Carndonagh CS: Padraig O’Donnell, Lee McLaughlin, Michael Doran, Jake Harkin, Conor O’Donnell, Kieran Farren (Captain), Mikey Friel, Jack Doherty, Luke Rudden, Corey McBride, Fionn McClure. Subs: Gavin McDaid, Eoin McLaughlin, Alex McFadden, Pearse McCarron (for Mikey Friel, 80), Jack McLaughlin