BY CHRIS MCNULTY
NOEL Ward says that his Colaiste na Carraige senior team must drawn on every sinew of their experience when they take on St Malachy’s of Castlewellan on Wednesday in the Under-18 Markey Cup quarter-final.
A venue has yet to be confirmed for the game, although it will take place somewhere in the Omagh region with Dromore and Drumragh having been mentioned as possible locations.
This is the latest batch of players to come through the corridors of a south-west nursery that lists the likes of Martin and James McHugh, Ryan and Mark McHugh, John Joe Doherty, Noel and Paddy Hegarty and Patrick McBrearty among its former scholars.
A team including Doherty, Noel Hegarty, Mark McShane and Paul Carr won the Markey Cup in 1985 – and, to this day, that team is the only Markey Cup-winning side from Donegal.
On Friday fortnight last, Ward’s team overcame St Columba’s of Glenties in the Donegal senior final – to confirm their status as one of the unique teams. This group has never lost a Vocational Schools game at county level – and are aiming, now, to take big steps in the province.
Conor Doherty was on fire with six points in the county final, on a day when Pauric Cunningham’s goal lit the touchpaper for the Kilcar-Naomh Columba combination.
Under the management of Ward – a Four Masters native who heads the GAA programme in the school – and the persuasions of the wily Neilly Byrne on the sideline, they’ve consistetly topped the pile.
In the likes of Doherty, Ryan Gillespie, Paddy Byrne and the captain, Aodhán McGinley they can draw on players who have worn the county jersey at various grades.
McGinley and Doherty played in a McDevitt Cup semi-final in 2010 when a late scoring spurt steered St Mark’s, Warrenpoint to a win over the Carrick lads.
The school has won five of the last six Donegal senior schools titles and is on the march in Ulster once more.
Jamie J McGinley sat out training on Thursday night because of a stiff neck, but the teak tough defender will be available to line out on Wednesday.
“This team has never lost a Vocational Schools game in Donegal and they have savage experience,” Ward said.
“The squad is healthy and we’re in good fitness.”
The bloodlines have continued on in the school. From the team that broke the barrier in 2007/08 with the county title win, there are five brothers on the current rollbook: Ryan McNern’s brother Kevin played six years ago with the others including, Jason and Kevin Campbell; Pauric and Michael Ward; Conor and Liam Doherty; as well as Aodhán and Dermot McGinley.
A semi-final berth with Largy College is the carrot that dangles this Wednesday.
Ward said: “Success breeds success, they say, and there must be something in that saying.
“We had a team with Mark McHugh, Oisin McGinley and those boys in it that were the first team to go into Ulster from the school in a long time.
“We were asked to go to represent the county in Ulster that year. The county final hadn’t been played and then we ended up losing it to PCC, Falcarragh – so, for all the football we got that year, we ended up with not even a county title to show for it, which was sickening.”
Ward is feeling upbeat about their prospects for this week, even if their star turn, Stephen McBrearty, continues in his rehabilitation from a long-term knee injury that will keep him sidelined until May.
Ward said: “It would take a good team to beat us. If the boys’ heads are right they could go a bit in this yet. They won’t be fazed and they certainly have the experience to play at the top level in this competition.”
Arthur’s Cup Under-16 quarter-final
STEPHEN Doohan takes the PCC, Falcarragh Under-16 side to the Tyrone Centre of Excellence in Garvaghey tomorrow for their clash with St Joseph’s, Enniskillen (throw-in 12noon) following on from their big win over St Columba’s, Stranorlar in the Donegal final.
Michael Langan and Jason McGee netted in a 2-8 to 0-2 triumph. St Michael’s man Langan is the team’s chief score getter while McGee, the side’s captain, has been on trial with Nottingham Forest lately and is no mean operator himself.
Dylan Doherty and Ciaran McGinley are among the other men to watch on a Falcarragh side that is aiming to break through to the semis, at the expense of a tough side from St Joseph’s.
McDevitt Cup, Under-14 quarter-final
COLAISTE na Carraige take on St Joseph’s, Enniskillen at Gaelic Park, Bundoran this Thursday morning (throw-in, 11.30) in their rearranged McDevitt Cup quarter-final, postponed on Friday last because of the adverse weather conditions.
Gareth Doherty’s team have been in excellent form this season and they hit a late flurry of goals in the Donegal final, where three goals in the last seven minutes saw them take a whopping 6-7 to 1-5 win over Carndonagh Community School.
A hat-trick from Cillian O’Malley was the highlight on that occasion, with Gary Molloy and Jordan Burns also netting and Carn’s Ciaran Doherty the unfortunate scorer of an own goal.
Another man to watch out for his Colaiste na Carraige’s midfielder Lanty Molloy, who hit five points in their Donegal final.
All bar two of this Colaiste na Carraige team are in second year; first year Dylan O’Gara and third year Brian O’Donnell.
Ward Cup Under-18 ‘B’ semi-final
A PLACE in the final of the Ward Cup (Under-18 ‘B) is at stake this morning when Eddie Brennan’s team, who snatched a late win over Magh Ene in the Donegal final, take on Rural Academy (Urney, 11.30am).
Darach O’Connor is a doubt with a hamstring injury, while Georgie Kelly is sidelined with a knee ligament injury and Shane McLaughlin is suspended having been sent off last time out.
The Buncrana lads can still draw on plenty of big game players, with Buncrana duo John Campbell and Caolan McMonagle, as well as Burt’s Sean McHugh among their leading lights.
IN the Corn Chúchúlainn Under-16 ‘B’ competition, Magh Ene College, Bundoran, are awaiting a date and venue for their clash with St Patrick’s, Ballymena, while in a Corn MacNessa Under-14 ‘B’ quarter-final on Thursday, Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana went goal crazy to defeat St Aidan’s High School, Derrylin.
At Castlederg, the Buncrana boys scored a 7-8 to 1-7 win and they will face the winners of tomorrow’s clash of St Brigid’s College, Armagh and Oakgrove Integrated College, Derry, in a semi-final.