SCHOOLS GAA: St. Columb's through to Corn Colmcille last eight
Danske Bank Corn Colmcille: St Columb's College 6-11, St. Mary's CBS, Belfast 0-03
St Columb’s College Under 13s progressed to the quarter-finals of the Ulster Colleges Corn Colmcille after emphatically winning their third and final group game against St Mary’s CBS, Belfast on Friday.
The Buncrana Road school had put together an impressive run of victories, defeating Carrickmacross and Holy Trinity Cookstown, two schools that will contest this year’s MacLarnon Cup on St. Patrick’s Day.
In a wet and windy Glen Maghera, St Columb’s adapted to the conditions quicker, scoring 1-01 within the first five minutes, thanks to a point from Callum Deery and a goal courtesy of Niall McGonagle, son of former Derry dual star Geoffrey.
The next score in the game did not arrive until the 19th minute as both teams coughed up possession trying to force the game. St Mary’s stubbornness around midfield eventually yielded its reward with their first score from open play but on the restart, the Belfast boys won the battle at midfield again and produced a fine score to bring the deficit back to two points.
Shea Browne, although named at midfield, began dropping deeper to support Ben O’Kane’s kick-outs and it paid dividends. With 21 minutes gone, a smooth move involving Browne, Padhraig Nelis and Eamon Og Feeney eventually saw the ball arrive in the hands of full forward McGonigle who once again dispatched a thunderous shot to the bottom left corner of the St Mary’s net.
From this point, until the end of the half St Coulmb’s controlled the remaining exchanges. McGonagle completed his hat-trick, Eamon Og Feeney added three points from play while James McLaughlin increased the St Columb’s goal tally with a fine effort of his own to all but ended the game as a contest as the Derry school led 4-04 to 0-02 at the interval.
St Mary’s with the wind advantage in the second half pinned St Columb’s inside their own 21m line for the opening 10 minutes and but for some wayward shooting and a missed penalty could have brought themselves back into the match.
However, the St. Columb’s dominance was soon restored with fine scores from McGonagle (2), Ronan McAleer and a point from Tiarnan O’Connor.
The lead allowed the St Columb’s bench to be emptied with Jacob McElhinney immediately scoring from distance as St Columb’s ran out comfortable winners.
“The boys should be proud of their achievements thus far in competition,” explained St. Columb’s manager Michael McLaughlin after the game, “However, we will only really find out how good this team are as we move into the knockout stages of the competition.”