COUNTY DIVISION 1 MINOR LEAGUE FINAL
NOAMH COLUMBA 1-17 MACCUMHAILLS 2-06
“There is no “I” in team but there is in win.”
The quote from Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, sprung to mind as I watched the Donegal Minor League final unfold at Pearse Memorial Park in Ardara on Monday evening.
The mercurial Aaron Doherty had just scored eleven points from centre-half back as he drove his young Naomh Columba team to success against a much fancied MacCumhaills outfit.
Boasting three members of the 2017 Donegal Minor panel (Doherty, Lanty Molloy and Finn Gallagher – all of whom are U17), Noel Hegarty’s young charges also included Eric Carr and Paul O’Hare in their starting fifteen. They’re both still U15 and members of the South Development squad.
Having beaten St Eunan’s by five in the quarter final, they had two to spare over local rivals Kilcar in the semi final but many pundits felt that MacCumhaills would prove to be a bridge too far.
Leading by ten (1-12 to 1-02) the final was effectively over at the short whistle though with Doherty contributing seven of those scores as well as starting the move which led to their goal which was palmed to the net by Dillon Kelly.
Doherty’s ball striking off the ground was sublime – he scored two ’45s to go with five frees and four points from play – but it was his all-round game which was so impressive.
Late on, after scoring a point at one end of the field he was back dispossessing a MacCumhaills attacker inside his own ’45 before leading yet another Naomh Columba raid forward.
It was at that point that another Jordan quote came to mind: “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
Doherty leads by example and he’s not afraid to put in the hard yards in defence. Indeed, his work ethic is a shining example to all young aspiring footballers.
Having said all that, it would be unfair to say that this is Naomh Columba squad is a one man team.
Yes, Doherty is the heart-beat of Hegarty’s squad but in Lanty Molloy and Finn Gallagher he has two able lieutenants. Elsewhere, Jordan Burns put in a massive shift at full-back to restrict Oisin Gallen, another county Minor, to just two scores from play, while Michael Lyons and team captain Tadhg McGinley were both highly effective in closing off any gaps that might appear in the Glen defence.
The men from Glen opened the scoring inside a minute through a Doherty free and the number six doubled their advantage a minute later, also from a placed ball.
Oisin Gallen, Doherty’s team-mate on the Donegal Minor team this year, got the scoreboard ticking for the Twin Towns men from a free on three minutes
The game’s opening goal arrived on eight minutes. Doherty’s clever hand-pass put Ronan O’Hare in behind the MacCumhaills defence and his flick was palmed into the net by Dillon Kelly.
Lanty Molloy’s point put Noel Hegarty’s men five to the good before MacCumhaills scored their opening goal on ten minutes.
Oisin Gallen collected possession sixty yards out and set off on a mazy run through the heart of the Naomh Columba defence which culminated in a superb low shot which nestled into the corner of Colm McElroy’s net.
Three unanswered scores from Molloy and Doherty (2) saw the lead back out to five at the end of the first quarter.
A monster free from Doherty was cancelled out by Chad McSorley’s first score of the evening before Doherty, who was leading another county Minor Luke Gavigan a merry dance, scored his fifth point of the half.
When James Heena capitalised on a poor clearance from MacCumhaills ‘keeper Cian Gallen the lead was out to seven.
Eric Carr got his first score on 23 minutes before Doherty (free) notched his seventh score of the half.
The centre back then fed Molloy for his third score and the lead was out to ten. Half time Namh Columba 1-12 MacCumhaills 1-02.
Gallen (free) got the scoreboard turning for MacCumhaills within two minutes of the restart before Twin Towns goal was almost breached for a second time on 37 minutes but Michael Lyons whose shot was well saved by corner back Jack Burke – Doherty split the uprights with the subsequent 45.
MacCumhaills second goal arrived on 39 minutes – Aaron Gilooley palming in from close range after Gallen created the opening.
A second ’45 from Doherty was soon followed by his tenth point – and first off his left foot – on the three quarter mark.
McSorley, with his second, and two from Gallen – were cancelled out by Doherty and Dillon Kelly before the final time whistle sounded much to the delight of the Naomh Columba supporters.
It wassss left to team captain Tadhg McGinley to collect the silverware from Liam McElhinney and sponsor PHanniganhan, LYIT.
It’s the first time that the Division One Minor Cup has gone to Glen in over thirty years – back to a time when Noel Hegarty was playing Minor himself.
That particular Glen team went on to contest a number of Senior Club finals in the 1990s and while it’s too early to make any rash predictions, the future looks bright for Naomh Columba.
NAOMH COLUMBA: Colm McElroy; Oisin Byrne, Jordan Burns, Aidan McGinley; James Heena (0-01), Aaron Doherty (0-11, 5 frees, 2 ’45), Paul O’Hare; Fionn Gallagher, Ronan O’Hare; Michael Lyons, Lanty Molloy (0-03), Eric Carr (0-01); Dillon Kelly (1-01), Ronan Gillespie, Tadhg McGinley.
MACCUMHAILLS: Cian Gallen; Aaron Gilooley (1-00), Christopher Gallagher, Jack Burke; Rory Mulligan, Luke Gavigan, Austin Dignam; Fintan Griffin, Conor Lillis; Chad McSorley (0-02), Joe Boyle, Conor Doherty; Alex McGeehan, Oisin Gallen (0-05, 3 frees, 1 ’45), Daire McCafferty. Subs: Anthony Bruton for Doherty (37 mins), Matthew Doherty for Rory Mulligan (back card 41 mins), Joey Laverty for McCafferty (53 mins)
REFEREE: Greg McGroary (Four Masters)
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