St. Columb’s College stall despite gutsy display in All Ireland semi-final

St.Columb's College lost out to St. Paul's, Oughterard in the Masita All-Ireland O'Sullivan Cup Semi Final  in Ballyshannon
St.Columb's College lost out to St. Paul's, Oughterard in the Masita All-Ireland O'Sullivan Cup Semi Final in Ballyshannon

St.Columb’s College 0-12

St. Paul’s, Oughterard

(Galway) 3-9

The All-Ireland dream for St. Columb’s College is over after the Ulster champions bowed at the hands of Connacht kingpins, St. Paul’s Oughterard in Ballyshannon on Saturday.

And it was the Matthew Tierney, the star of the Galway men’s provincial final victory that led the charge once again. Tierney registered a mind-boggling 5-05 in the Connacht decider once again, he rose to the fore with a vital 2-05.

Those within the compounds of the Donegal venue were left in little doubt they were witnessing a star in the making.

For, St. Columb’s there would be no repeat of the Ulster decider when they had fallen behind early before finishing strongest to secure famous fightback victory win against Donegal’s Abbey Vocational School.

The concession of a goal in the first 18 seconds of this contest hurt the Derry contingent who were left chasing the contest from there. Ten wides over the course of the hour tells a tale, it simply wasn’t their day.

Now however, a large portion of the panel turn their attentions towards the Mac Larnon Cup final on March 18th with Cathair Dhoire when the pain of this defeat could inspire another success story for the GAA in the city.

Straight from the throw-in, it was the Tribesmen who went on the attack with midfielder Paul Kelly’s direct running style.

Kelly found Cian Monaghan who played the ball to Joseph O’Flaherty and it was the latter who duly fired the ball into the back of the net to give his team the dream start.

Tierney then opened his account for the day with a free kicked off the ground which successfully navigated the swirling breeze before finding its final destination between the posts.

Fergal Mortimer opened the College account on four minutes with a free to stop the rot afterwhat had been a disaster start for his team.

St. Paul’s would reply with a fine score of their own, a neat sequence of swift passes culminating in Kelly blazing the ball over the bar.

Midway through the half, the Oak Leaf men had a chance of their own to register a major as Tiarnan O’Kane’s ball made it through the opposition defence onto the run of Cahir McMonagle but his soccer style effort veered off target.

Eoghan Cassidy’s direct running then punched holes in the Galway resolve as a patient build-up led to Shea Browne slipping the ball to Mortimer who dispatched over the bar.

And it was a two in two attacks for the Derry men when Ryan Brown claimed the restart before slipping the pass of to Browne who in turn fed McMonagle and the ball was sent over by the slick inside forward.

Mortimer fired over another score after a miscued pass in the Paul’s half, his well struck effort was helped on its way over the bar by the St. Paul’s keeper.

The combination of Browne and McMonagle worked once again as the latter clipped over the top to cut the deficit to one.

However, disaster wasn’t far away and struck for the second time as Kelly once again parted the Derry defence with a driving run before kicking between the two forwards for goal machine, Tierney to grab possession and fire into the net.

To add insult to injury, Tierney clipped over a free from the next attack and once again, at the blink of an eye the gap was five.

McMonagle replied with a score as did Mortimer and the gap was reduced to three but at 0-8 to 2-5 St. Columb’s still had it all to do.

The aforementioned Tierney continued to star in the opening stages of the second stanza as he landed two monstrous frees, one from range, the other from a narrow angle.

Mortimer once again settled his charges with a difficult free before Tierney and Ryan Monaghan replied with two quickfire scores.

Now kicking into a swirling breeze, McMonagle was tasked with the free-taking duties and duly obliged with a fine effort, compensating for the breeze.

Eoghan Cassidy curled one over not long after with the opposition in full retreat, Mortimer landed another free to spur on the men in red and white with a gap of three with just five to play.

The College brought on Caoimhin O’Connor as they searched for a much needed major to save their season, moving into full press on the counterparts.

It was the ferocity in the tackle and composure in possession that helped the Derry side get back into the game but a few rushes of blood to the head, saw the ball tail off target.

With the game entering four minutes of additional time, the Tribesmen won a free 21 yards from goal. Tierney stepped over it and the rumour that everything he touches will turn to goal ran true as his miskicked effort sailed into the net much to the surprise of the Oak Leaf netminder.

In the end, the valiant efforts of the city school fell agonisingly short but their heads can remain on high as, Ulster champions and reaching the last four of the All-Ireland series.

St. Columb’s: Matthew Stephenson, Michael Lynch, Naoise O’Mianian, Padraig Nelis, Conor McLaughlin, Shane McElhinney, Tiarnan O’Kane, Cormac Mooney, James Lynch, Ryan Brown, Fergal Mortimer (0-6 4f), Eoghan Cassidy (0-1), Cahir McMonagle (0-4 1f), Jude Óg Moore, Shea Browne (0-1).

Subs: Donnacha Gilmore for Padraig Nelis (24), Caoimhin O’Connor for James Lynch (40).

St.Paul’s: Oisin Finn, Paul Butler, Cathal Duggan, Aonghus Feeney, Patrick Keane, Oisin O’Donnell, Adam Heffernan, Cathal Walsh, Paul Kelly (0-1), Aaron McGuire, Ryan Monaghan (0-3 1f), Cian Monaghan, Matthew Tierney (2-5 5f), Sam Lawrence, Joseph O’Flaherty.

Subs: Adam Tierney for S Lawrence (50), Shane Joyce for P Butler (63), C Tierney for A McGuire (63).

Referee: Niall McKenna (Sligo)