MARKEY CUP U-18 COLLEGES FINAL
Colaiste na Carraige (Donegal) 3-8 Virginia College (Cavan) 1-10
By Gerry Maguire
It was glory glory days for Colaiste na Carraige as they took their first Ulster Markey Cup title since 1985 when John Joe Doherty and Noel Hegarty powered them to victory.
But it took a superb second-half display from the Carrick lads to edge out a gritty Virginia College in a truly thrilling affair at Brewster Park.
Victory was carved out in a frenetic third quarter when Carrick hit two goals, a penalty from man of the match Aodhan McGinley, and a clinically finished effort from Conor Doherty.
Those two deadly strikes put the winners into a 2-8 1-5 lead by the 50th minute after they trailed by 1-5 0-4 at half time.
But the courageous Virginia lads refused to yield and hit five unanswered points to set up a truly tingling finish.
Virginia threw everything into a wave of attacks but desperate defending and the woodwork denied a few goal-bound shots.
Then, with 60 seconds remaining Carrick broke out of their defense and midfielder Ryan Gillespie found himself in loads of space on the halfway line.
The midfielder tore through the centre of the almost vacant Virginia rearguard and slipped a pass to centre forward Pauric Cunningham who had the simple task of tapping the ball to the net to ensure victory.
This was the cue for mega celebrations for the winners who now meet fellow Donegal College St Eunan’s in the next round of the competition.
Aodhan McGinley was magnificent for the winners but he had strong competition from raiding wing-back Cormac Cannon, corner forward Doherty, Gillespie and centre back Padraig Ward.
Both sides were slow to settle in a nervous opening quarter before opened the scoring with a pointed free after seven minutes.
Carrick were dominant at midfield but Virginia’s Brian O’Connell leveled matters before McGinley landed two more points to leave Carrick ahead by 0-3 0-1.
Ryan Gillespie made it 0-4 0-1 lead as wasteful Carrick hit six wides.
Virginia responded with a vengeance in the 26th minute when Ryan Mannion pounced on a mistake by Carrick keeper Michael Cunningham.
Cunningham parried a speculative lob from Jason McMahon into the path of Mannion who tapped the ball to the empty net.
Virginia then surged clear to set up a 1-5 0-4 half-time lead.
But with wing back Cormac Cannon leading the charge, Carrick found a higher gear in the third quarter.
A monster free from midfielder Paddy Byrne found McGinley on the edge of the square and he blasted the ball off the crossbar.
But, Conor Doherty was adjudged to be held back by the Virginia defense and McGinley dispatched the penalty with aplomb in the 38th minute.
Carrick struck again in the 445th minute when Conor Doherty was on hand to finish a partially blocked save from Christopher Doogan to the net.
But that signaled a memorable comeback from the Cavan lads who contributed richly to a most enjoyable second half.
Colaiste na Carraige: Michael Cunningham, Christopher Byrne, Jamie J McGinley, Conor Kennedy; Cormac Cannon (0-1), Pat Ward, Philip Doherty: Paddy Byrne, Ryan Gillespie (0-1) ; Christopher Doogan, Pauric Cunningham (1-0), Andrew McClean; Conor Doherty (1-3 , 2f) Aodhan McGinley (1-3, pen) Philip McNern.
Subs; Martin Byrne for Christopher Doogan(57)
Virginia College; Kealan O’Connell; Pauric O’Connell, Mark Magee, Patrick Gargan; Eoin Somerville, Brian O’Connell (0-1), Jason McMahon (0-1); Sean McDermott (0-1), Bryan Magee (0-1); Joey O’Connell, Conor Bradley (0-2) Ryan Mannion (1-1), Adam O’Reilly (0-1) Sean Brady (0-2) Evan Doughty.
Subs; James Brady for Evan Doughty (half-time), Laurence Caffrey for Patrick Gargan (39), Daire McEnroe for Sean Brady (39), Cathal Maguire for Ryan Mannion (51)
Barry Cassidy (Derry)
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