Coláiste Ailigh are celebrating a first major senior schools championship success following Friday’s Vocational Schools B Final victory over Gairmscoil Chú Uladh.
Six points separated these sides at the end of what was a well contested encounter and a first ever all-Irish language schools final in the county
The winners led 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time, with Padraig O’Riain scoring the all-important goal in the middle of the half.
O’Riain slid the ball underneath Liam O’Meara in the Chú Uladh goals after being sent clear with a slide rule pass from Brian Mac a tSaoir.
That was on 18 minutes and it was a big moment in game that was finely balanced in the opening quarter hour as the boys from An Chú Uladh were more than a match for the fancied Coláiste Ailigh boys.
The goal came two minutes after Odhran MacFhionnaigle - the champions’ leading marksman - had edged the winners in front for the first time.
The opening minutes were played at a brisk pace with the lightening fast Aaron MacFhloinn kicking the game’s first point on 28 seconds.
While Oisín O’Cleirigh got Coláiste Ailigh off the mark three minutes later, the boys from the Gaeltacht Lár, were soon back in front with a super strike from Paraic O’Dochairtaigh. He split the posts after good approach play from Naomh Conaill’s Ultan O’ Dochartaigh.
With Ciaran O’Giobuin and Kyle O’Dochartaigh having the better of the midfield exchanges and Jason O’Moru carving the openings the underdogs pulled two clear after ten minutes.
But with a better balance to their formation and a little more accuracy in front of the posts, Coláiste Ailigh were soon on level terms.
Captain Máitís MacCeallabhuí charged forward to hit two rapid fire points to tie up the game at 0-3 each.
O’Riain’s goal opened up a 1-4 to 0-3 advantage for the Letterkenny boys and with MacFhionnghaile firing over two more points to one in response from Maitiú MacFhionnghaile, Coláiste Ailigh led by five at half-time.
Driven by O’Giobuin and O’Dochartaigh at midfield and O’ Moru and the roving Ultan O’Dochartaigh up front, Chú Uladh had the margin back to four inside 11 minutes of the restart.
But despite the loss of Sean Mac a tSaoir to a second yellow card, Coláiste Ailigh stepped up another notch.
Two quick points from Jeaic MacCeallabhuí and one from Cathair O’Dochartaigh saw them charge into a seven point advantage. Darragh O’Tuathail stretched that lead out to eight with a little over ten minutes remaining.
And as the game fizzled out Jason O’Moro and Ultan O’Dochataigh had the last word with late points for Chú Uladh.
Both sides now advance to the Ulster Schools and the Ward Cup. Coláiste Ailigh go straight into the semi-final while Chú Uladh enter the competition at the quarter-final stage.
Colásiste Ailigh: Fiachra MacLochlainn; Macdara O’h Eanaigh, Piaras Gallchóir, Darragh O’Tuathail (0-1); Hughie O’Merlehan (0-1), Oisín O’Tuathail, Cathar O’ Dochartaigh (0-1); Maitís MacCeallabhuí (0-2), Oisín O’ Cleirigh (0-1); Odhran MacFhionnghaile (0-4,1f), Padraig O’Riain (1-0), Sean Mac a tSaor; Jeaic MacCeallbhuí(0-2), Caoimhin MacLochlainn, Brian Mac a tSaoir. Subs: Ailin Parsoma for C Mac Lochlainn (47); Niall O’Hannigan for B Mac a tSaoir (57); Fionn O’ Cleirigh for J MacCeallabhuí(58).
Gairmscoil Chú Uladh: Liam O’Meara; Paraic MacCraith, Colm O’Cuinn, Sean O’Domhnaill; Cearull MacFhloinn (0-1), Gearóid O’ Dochartaigh, Caolan MacMonagail (0-1); Ciaran O’Giobuin, Kyle O’Dochartaigh; Paraic O’Dochartaigh, Jason O’Moru(0-4,4f), Aaron MacFhloinn (0-1); Ultan O’Dochartaigh (0-1), Maitiú MacFhionnghaile (0-1), Maitiú MacFhloinn. Subs: Donnacha O’Cuinn for C MacMonagall (130; Kaylem O’Murchú for M O’Dochartaigh (18); Lee MacDaibhead for K O’Murchú (56); Donal MacCormac for M MacMongall(57).
Referee: Eddie Crawford (Glenswilly)