North West Regional College (NWRC) were crowned All-Ireland Champions after collecting the All-Ireland Further Education Division 2 Championship title by defeating Southern Regional College (SRC) in an enthralling encounter in Belfast last week.
Aided by a slight breeze in the first half, the North West men dominated the early stages racing into a three point lead thanks to a hat-trick of scores from Donegal U21 player Sean McGarvey. Despite this early dominance, SRC drew level with the first goal of the game.
However, the North West men responded positively with points from Daniel McLaughlin and a superb McGarvey effort but the decisive score of the half came on 24minutes when midfielder Conor Classon took a return pass from centre half-back Ciaran McIntyre to drive through the heart of the SRC defence and net his first goal of the season.
McGarvey added his fifth point of the half before SRC responded just before the half-time whistleto leave to locals 1-6 to 1-1 ahead of the break.
SRC upped the tempo following the re-start and pressurised North West but with little early return but credit to SRC who stuck to their task and added two unanswered points to narrow the gap ten minutes into the second half.
NWRC then stepped-up a gear and stretched their lead with points from wing-back O’Reilly and wing-forwards McLaughlin and Doherty. The quality and level of play was excellent from both sides making the game was a real cracker, and a superb finger-tip save from keeper Cooke denied SRC the goal they desperately needed.
The key moment arrived on 49 minutes when Daniel McLaughlin advanced through the SRC defence to drill the ball home from close range. The Donegal wing forward followed this with an excellent point a minute later. Not to be denied, SRC laid siege to the North West goal but again keeper Cooke was in fine form diving low to his left to prevent a clear goal chance.
SRC kicked four unanswered points to make it a nervous final few minutes for NWRC, but with Lynch, Kennedy, Walsh and Grant all adding to the defensive effort, SRC were unable to score the goal they needed to get back in the game.
As the final whistle sounded it was greeted with scenes of joy from the North West men who ran out 2-10 to 1-8 winners.
NWRC team: Ronan Cooke (Slaughtmanus), Lawrence Lynch (Muff), Caolan Ward (St. Eunan’s), Calum Devine, Danny Ball (Clann Na Gael), Ciaran McIntyre (Glack), Conor O’Reilly (Drum) (0-1); Conor Classon (Ardara) 1-0; Alan Grant (Sean Dolans); Jamie Doherty (Letterkenny Gaels) 0-1. Shaun McGarvey (Falcarragh) 0-5; Daniel McLaughlin (Dunfanaghy) 1-3; Gerard Walsh (Ardara), Packie Kennedy (St. Eunan’s), Aidan Duddy (Dungiven); Subs: Stephen Duffy (Faughanvale), Ronan Gallen (Killygordon), Johnny Quigley (Magilligan), Denim Rowan (Killygordon), Conor Devenney (Naomh Mhuire Annagry), Aaron McColgan (Faughanvale), Kevin Boyle (Naomh Mhuire Annagry), Stephen Patton (Strabane Sigersons), Noel Kavanagh (Na Magha), Mark McShane (Doire Colmcille), Sean Devlin (Dungiven), Kevin Dunne (Foreglen), James Alcorn (St. Michael’s Dunfanaghy)
Management: Gerard Faulkner (Moville), David Mc Ginley (St. Eunan’s)