Carndonagh CS 2, Coláiste Chiaráin, Athlone 0
FOUR Derry City U19 representatives formed part of the triumphant Carndonagh Community School side crowned 2018 FAI Schools Dr Tony O'Neill Senior National Cup champions on Wednesday afternoon.
A goal in each half proved enough for the dominant Inishowen school to recapture the trophy they last won back in 2016 after a comfortable victory over Athlone club, Coláiste Chiaráin at the impressive Home Farm FC venue.
The Candy Stripes were well represented with Carndonagh skipper and goalkeeper, Daniel Houghton, Kieran Farren, Fionn McClure and Mikey Friel all heavily involved in the superb victory.
It's been a remarkable few weeks for both Houghton and right-back, Farren in particular as the Republic of Ireland schoolboy internationals were fresh from their Centenary Shield title success a fortnight ago in Whitehall.
Martin Cavanagh’s crew were the winners of the prestigious Dr Tony O'Neill Senior Cup two years ago and they were always on top throughout this game.
However, the gritty Athlone outfit, who were making their first ever appearance in a Cup Final at this level, were capable of getting back on terms until they went two goals behind with 20 minutes remaining.
Corey McBride had Carndonagh ahead on the stroke of half-time and when Conor O’Donnell steered home the second on 72 minutes the Cup was destined to travel back to Donegal once again.
Coláiste Chiaráin had suffered an early set-back minutes after the start just as they had begun to settle into the game when they lost midfielder Adam Harney through injury.
But they were still the first side to look dangerous and in a couple of early attacks crosses into the Carndonagh area from Callum O’Brien and captain, Luke Kelly both failed to trouble the Donegal defenders.
At the other end Carndonagh were beginning to exert their authority and Ciaran Doherty shot over from distance when he was set up by McBride.
While later Mikey Friel saw his header go past the post after Athlone goalkeeper Michael Hanley misjudged a cross.
Carndonagh were now in control and they went close to opening the score when first Hanley tipped over McBride’s dangerous free kick and later O’Donnell did well to get on the end of a Jack Doherty free kick only to direct his header wide.
The best chance then fell to Jack Doherty again after he burst down the right flank and cut inside past Jayden Tumulty and Paul McManus only to pull his final effort wide of the far post.
The half looked to be ending scoreless until McBride struck to fire Carndonagh in front when he beat Hanley with a clinical finish after great link up play with Friel despite the best effort of Alex Francis to avert the danger.
Things got worse for Coláiste Chiaráin early in the second half when they were forced to replace the injured Hanley with substitute goalkeeper Jamie Keogh.
Keogh was quickly called into action to keep out O’Donnell’s curling effort and then did extremely well to turn out shots from the Doherty duo Ciaran and Jack for corners.
However, the relentless Carndonagh pressure finally yielded the insurance goal with slightly less than 20 minutes remaining. Jack Doherty got free on the right and delivered a pin point cross that fell nicely for O’Donnell and under pressure from Dylan Sumner he still managed to side foot the ball past the helpless Keogh from close in.
The Coláiste Chiaráin keeper then excelled with two quick-fire saves from substitute, Cade Cooke but up front Athlone had little to offer and Carndonagh comfortably saw out the remainder of the game for a deserved win.
Man of the Match - Corey McBride (Carndonagh Community School).
Coláiste Chiaráin - Michael Hanley, Adam Harney, Dylan Sumner, Paul McManus, Jayden Tumulty, Reece Moran, Alex Francis, Sean Ryan, Callum O’Brien, Luke Kelly (Captain) Ruairi Lenehan; Subs: Robert Hardiman (for Harney 6 mins), Jamie Keogh (for Hanley 50 mins), Neil Macken (for Lenehan 54 mins), Alan Freeburne (for Ryan 66 mins), Darren Duff (for Moran 70 mins); Subs Not Used - Niall Murray, Cian Molloy, Ouassim Boumzal.
Cardonagh CS - Daniel Houghton (Captain), Lee McLaughlin, Jake Harkin, Kieran Farren, Fionn McClure, Ciaran Doherty, Oisin Hession, Jack Doherty, Corey McBride, Conor O’Donnell, Mikey Friel; Subs Used - Luke Rudden (for Friel 51 mins), Cade Cooke (for J Doherty 80 mins), Brendan Doherty (for McBride 86 mins), Lorcan Bradley (for O’Donnell 90 mins), Pearse McCarron (for Farren 90 +1 mins); SUBS NOT USED | Ciaran Doherty, Jack McLaughlin, Nathan Logue, Daniel McCallion.
Referee - Dave Kitson (Dublin).