St.Columb’s land maiden Markey Cup in rollercoaster finale

Danske Bank Ulster Schools Markey Cup Final 2019

St.Columb’s College (Derry) 2-11 Abbey V.S (Donegal) 3-5

From Odhrán Crumley in O’Donnell Park

St.Columb’s College have claimed the Markey Cup for the first time eventually seeing off an Abbey challenge in a rollercoaster contest at O’Donnell Park.

The accolade marks the first senior Ulster title the school has won in seventeen years, the last coming way back in 2002.

It was the Donegal men who raced into an early seven point lead before the resurgence of the Derry school came to the fore on the way to victory in a second half for the ages.

Fergal Mortimer opened the scoring after just three minutes from a free before his counterpart, Cian Hegarty landed two placed balls to give his side the advantage.

Eleven minutes in the Derry City men would land the first of five major over the game, Eoghan Cassidy slipping the ball to Tiernan O’Kane. The defender made an industrious run before slotting the ball into net.

The Donegal town representatives replied almost instantaneously with Richard O’Rourke sending an inch perfect ball in behind the College defence for Shaun Kennedy to fire into the top left corner of the net.

Midfielder Jamie Crawford landed the next two scores of the contest the first, a monstrous effort from range before a close range free extended the lead to three.

It went from bad to worse for the Oakleafers as Kennedy and Daniel Gallagher were all involved in a neat intricate passing move for Cian Hegarty to punch into the empty net.

Mortimer stopped the rot from a free, his sides first score in sixteen minutes, but they would finish the half strongest.

Derry underage star, Mortimer added two further frees before all-star hurler, Eoghan Cassidy showed his big ball skills to fire over on the run to cut the deficit to two at the break.

Whatever the St.Columb’s management said at half time must have had an effect as Ryan Brown found Jude Og Moore in the opening seconds to cut the gap to one.

There was merely two minutes of the second half played when Shea Browne levelled after a fine counter attacking move.

Browne and Mortimer would then combine to set-up, Tiernan O’Kane for a score and all of a sudden, they were ahead by the minimum.

The Abbey were never going to crumble and fall without a fight and they showed that fighting spirit when a mishap from Stephenson in the College goal forced a goalmouth scramble to ensue, Jamie Crawford reacting quickest to poke the ball into the net.

In the dying embers of big games, the big players step-up and Mortimer once again rallied his troops with an outstanding free from south of forty five metres.

Subsititute, Ciaran Concannon would not have been able to have believed his luck as the ball fell to him five yards out for his first touch. The inspired substitution didn’t need to be asked twice, firing the ball into the net.

Hegarty landed a free to put one between them with time all but up, Lynch and Browne knocked over scores to put the dangerous three point lead between them entering injury time.

It took an incredible double block from Conor McLaughlin to deny Kennedy and secure the title for St.Columb’s in dramatic fashion.

St.Columb’s College: Matthew Stephenson, Michael Lynch, Naoise O’Mianian, Padraig Nelis, Conor McLaughlin, Shane McElhinney, Tiernan O’Kane (1-1), Cormac Mooney, James Lynch (0-1), Ryan Brown, Fergal Mortimer (0-5 5f), Eoghan Cassidy (0-1), Cahir McMonagle, Jude Óg Moore (0-1), Shea Browne (0-2).

Subs: Ciaran Concannon (1-0) for J Moore (49).

Yellow Cards: Conor McLaughlin (44)

Red Cards: Cormac Mooney (62)

Abbey V.S: Enda O’Hagan, Shane Meehan, Brian Fegan, Aidan McHugh, Ryan Brogan, Michael Coughlan, Richard O’Rourke, Jamie Crawford (1-2), Oisin Reid, Cathal Feeney, Michael Stalham, Daniel Gallagher, Shea Travers, Cian Hegarty (1-3 3f), Shaun Kennedy (1-0).

Subs: Ian Campbell for S Travers (57), Donnacha Gilmore for C Feeney (51), Thomas Wright for S Kennedy (59).

Yellow Cards: None.

Red Cards: None.

Referee: Mark Loughran (Tyrone)

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