St Columb’s claim first Markey CupFebruary 15, 2019
Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Markey Cup Final 2019
St Columb’s College (Derry) 2-11 Abbey VS (Donegal) 3-5
From Odhrán Crumley in O’Donnell Park
St Columb’s College have claimed the Danske Bank Markey Cup for the first time eventually seeing off an Abbey challenge in a rollercoaster contest at O’Donnell Park Letterkenny.
The accolade marks the first senior Ulster title the school has won in 17 years, the last coming way back in 2002.
It was the Donegal men who raced into an early seven point lead before the resurgence of the Derry school came to the fore on the way to victory in a second half for the ages.
Fergal Mortimer opened the scoring after just three minutes from a free before his counterpart, Cian Hegarty landed two placed balls to give his side the advantage.
Eleven minutes in the Derry City men would land the first of five major over the game, Eoghan Cassidy slipping the ball to Tiernan O’Kane. The defender made an industrious run before slotting the ball into net.
The Donegal town representatives replied almost instantaneously with Richard O’Rourke sending an inch perfect ball in behind the College defence for Shaun Kennedy to fire into the top left corner of the net.
Midfielder Jamie Crawford landed the next two scores of the contest the first, a monstrous effort from range before a close in free extended the lead to three.
It went from bad to worse for the Oakleafers as Kennedy and Daniel Gallagher were involved in a neat intricate passing move for Cian Hegarty to punch into the empty net.
Mortimer stopped the rot from a free, his side’s first score in 16 minutes, but they would finish the half strongest.
Derry underage star, Mortimer added two further frees before All-star hurler Eoghan Cassidy showed his big ball skills to fire over on the run and cut the deficit to two at the break.
Whatever the St Columb’s management said at half time must have had an effect as Ryan Brown found Jude óg Moore in the opening seconds to cut the gap to one.
There was merely two minutes of the second half played when Shea Browne levelled after a fine counter attacking move.
Browne and Mortimer would then combine to set-up Tiernan O’Kane for a score and all of a sudden they were ahead.
The Abbey were never going to crumble and fall without a fight and they showed that spirit when a mishap from Stephenson in the College goal led to a goalmouth scramble, Jamie Crawford reacting quickest to poke the ball into the net.
In the dying embers of big games, the big players step-up and Mortimer once again rallied his troops with an outstanding free from south of 45 metres.
Substitute Ciaran Concannon could not have believed his luck as the ball fell to him five yards out for his first touch. The inspired substitution didn’t need to be asked twice, firing the ball into the net.
Hegarty landed a free to put one between them with time all but up, Lynch and Browne knocked over scores to put the dangerous three point lead between them entering injury time.
It took an incredible double block from Conor McLaughlin to deny Kennedy and secure the title for St Columb’s in dramatic fashion.
St Columb’s College: M Stephenson, M Lynch, N Ó Mianáin, P Nelis, C McLaughlin, S McElhinney, T O’Kane (1-1), C Mooney, J Lynch (0-1), R Brown, F Mortimer (0-5 5f), E Cassidy (0-1), C McMonagle, J Moore (0-1), S Browne (0-2).
Subs: C Concannon (1-0) for J Moore (49).
Abbey VS: E O’Hagan, S Meehan, B Fegan, A McHugh, R Brogan, M Coughlan, R O’Rourke, J Crawford (1-2), O Reid, C Feeney, M Statham, D Gallagher, S Travers, C Hegarty (1-3 3f), S Kennedy (1-0).
Subs: I Campbell for S Travers (57), D Gilmore for C Feeney (51), T Wright for S Kennedy (59).
Referee: M Loughran (Tyrone)
Star Man – St.Columb’s: Fergal Mortimer
The Craigbane man is well known due to his involvement in the successful chain of Derry underage sides over the course of the last few years. This does single him out for some special treatment, but it is in this cauldron that he thrives. He led from the front and galvanised his troops over the hour.
Star Man – Abbey V.S: Oisin Hegarty
It is somewhat unfortunate that the big full-forward ended up on the wrong end of the result given the contribution he gave to the cause. Hegarty landed 1-3 himself, winning serious ball inside to set-up scores for those around him. His goal showed a poacher’s instinct with a run towards the back post, we haven’t heard the last of this man.