BY RYAN FERRY
St Eunan’s College will look to build on their MacLarnon Cup success when they face Markey Cup winners Colaiste na Carraige in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Ballyshannon on Saturday at 12.30pm.
The winners will go on to the All-Ireland Post-Primary Schools ‘B’ semi-final.
The Letterkenny side had to did deep to get past the challenge of Colaisti Inis Eoghain on St Patrick’s Day in Armagh. It was one of their poorest displays in the competition this year, but finals are about winning, and St Eunan’s managed to grind out the victory.
“It wasn’t our greatest ever performance, but it was just a matter of getting across the line and we did that,” said St Eunan’s manager, Neil Gordon.
Inishowen got off to a wonderful start with Donegal star Darach O’Connor finding the net within the opening minute of the final.
“Our start wasn’t ideal, but it was always a possibility with an inter-county player on the field. I felt we were too loose out the field, but once we rectified that we managed to put the shackles on him a bit.”
St Eunan’s were losing as the game approached its conclusion, but a late Daire McDaid penalty saved them. Gordon is adamant that he knew his team would win if they were still in contention at the death.
“I knew if we were within 3 or 4 points with five minutes to go, we’d do it.
“We got a penalty and we had been working on that in training, because we felt we could win one. We pushed Daniel Clarke into full-forward and Daniel Gillespie came on alongside him. They are two big men and I figured that the long ball in to them would cause problems.”
Gordon feels the lack of recovery time may hamper his team’s chances against Carrick and he says Conall O’Boyle and Michael Miller will not feature after shipping heavy knocks against Inishowen.
“Carrick are the kingpins of Vocational football and they had an extra week to recover from their game, and I don’t think it was as bruising either.
“It’s a 50/50 game. If we get off to a bad start again then we’ll really struggle. But if we play like we did against Cookstown and St Malachy’s, they’ll do well to stay with us.”
The St Eunan’s manager attended the Markey Cup final and he is wary of Colaiste na Carriage’s attacking threat.
“I was up at their final against Virginia and they’re a good team. Conor Doherty is very lively and he scored a lot of points for the Donegal minors against Fermanagh on Tuesday. They’ve also got Aodhan McGinley and Paddy Byrne, who are very talented players.”
Gordon admits that the big challenge for him this week is to get his side grounded again after the MacLarnon final. He says it is up to his team to prove how much they want to win.
“The big task is to get the lads grounded again. Oisin Carr, Conor O’Donnell, Niall O’Donnell, Shaun Patton and Sean Hume are professional and they won’t be a problem. But their are other lads that will require more work,” said Gordon.
“It’s up to the team. If they’re happy enough with the MacLarnon, then that’s the way it will be. But if they’re focussed and can deliver a major performance then we should be in with a chance,” he concluded.