ST EUNAN’S College teacher Michael Kelly would love to see his senior schools football side etch their name into the history books at Sentry Hill by winning the Dr Tony O’Neill Cup against De La Salle College on Wednesday at Athlone Town Stadium (kick-off, 1pm).
St Eunan’s have a very proud record in this competition, and the current crop will be keen to come out on top in this week’s All-Ireland Final.
“I know the guys that have won it before – the heroes of yesteryear – are so excited that this generation have made it through to the final,” said Kelly.
“The College is so important to people in the town and I think sporting success is probably the most relatable thing to past pupils.
“We are very fortunate that a number of past pupils have come on board as sponsors to help us try and win the All-Ireland title.
“We have a good group. They have trained hard since November, working towards this.
“It’s great to see young fellas out playing football and enjoying it, and hopefully we can finish off strongly in the final.”
St Eunan’s started their run with a win over Rosses Community School, and then took care of the two Buncrana schools – Scoil Muire and Crana College.
Carndonagh Community School stood in their way in the Ulster Final, but Kelly’s men won 3-1.
Presentation College from Athenry (Galway) were their opponents in the All-Ireland semi-final.
That proved to be a tense encounter but team captain David Boakye struck late to give the Letterkenny side the win they craved.
“It looked like it was going to penalties.
“In fairness both teams had chances to score in extra-time.
“Fair play to our boys, they gave everything they had and they were wrecked by the end of the match but they still had the courage to go and win it.
“Our two centre-halves have been very dangerous all year from set-pieces.
“In the semi-final, Fouad Bashar headed the ball across goal and David Boakye fired home.
“We still had to see it out and the referee played a good bit of injury-time. You’re never more vulnerable than after you’ve just scored but we defended well, and were backed brilliantly by our supporters who made the journey down.”
Fintan Doherty missed the semi-final as he was away on International duty with the Republic of Ireland Under 17s. The goalkeeper will be available for Wednesday’s match.
De La Salle qualified for the final after defeating St Mary’s CBS from Enniscorthy in their semi-final.
They were 1-0 down before an equaliser in the last minute kept their hopes alive. The Waterford outfit then went on to win the match on penalties.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them to be honest.
“We have played them before down through the years, and have come out on both sides of it.
“John O’Shea went to school there and they have a good football pedigree.
“It’s an all boys school as well, and they are known for their hurling too, so there’s plenty of sporting prestige.
“They are the kind of opposition you expect to come up against when you reach a final like this.”
It will be a difficult challenge for St Eunan’s on Wednesday but Kelly has faith in his side.
He feels they are primed and ready to deliver a big performance in Athlone.
“We have great character in our team and we also have great footballers. They are ready for this game.
“We would like to thank all our sponsors for all their help – Johnny Loughrey (JT Physiotherapy), Stephen McConnell (Sprint Educational Supplies), Neil Barrett (Fit Hub), Gerard & Linda Grant, Enda Nicholls (Arena 7), Jimmy Kennedy (The Brewery), Pauric McDaid and Associates, Conal McGonigle (The Cottage), Lee McCallion (LMC Fire Safety), Liam O’Donnell (The Community Centre), Peter Coyle (Michael Murphy’s Sports and Leisure), Brian McCormick (Brian McCormick Sports and Leisure), Paul Barrett (Tin Tai), Brian Gallagher (The Station House), North West Aluminium, Boyle Construction, Donegal Gas, Joe Bonner Metal Crafts, The Four Lanterns, Hawthorn Heights LTD, JB Carpentry.
“They have all gone out of their way to help the team and we greatly appreciate it.”
St Eunan’s College Senior Football Squad 2021/2022: Bryan da Costa, Fintan Doherty, Leon Doherty (captain), Tiernan Brown, Fouad Bashar, David Boakye, James ‘Barlow’ Gallagher, Ryan Creevy, Jay Maguire, Niall McCrossan, Noah Barrett, Adam Murphy, Nathan Plumb , Leon Boyce, Dylan McAteer, Joseph Aidoo, Ultan McMonagle, Reid Kelly, James ‘Lenty’ Gallagher, Dylan Condron, Reuben Grimes, Sam White, Michael Aidoo, Jack Duff, Zak Breen, Ben Cassidy, Lorcan Harvey, Luke Doherty, Mark Margey, Andrew Nicholls, Danny Hall, Sean Patton, Harry Winfield, Nathan Bonner, Reuben Doherty, Josh Doherty, Josh Patton, Ciaran Gallagher.
Manager: Michael Kelly
Assistant Manager: Garrett McDaid
Coach: Tony Blake
Physio: Shane McBrearty
Director of Football: Gareth Nee