When they write the history of Colaiste Na Carraige’s great sporting triumphs the 2015 Donegal U-16 final will rank among the best of them.
Coláiste Na Carraige 1-16
Abbey VS 1-13
(after extra time)
The winners trailed by six points, 0-8 to 1-11, with a little over ten minutes remaining. And they were still four behind with just two minutes left on the clock but in the closing minutes they conjured up a goal and a point to tie the game at 1-12 each and send the tie to ten minutes each way of extra time.
And with Abbey without their talisman Jack Keaney - sent off for a second yellow card in injury time in normal time - there was only going to be one winner in the extra time.
Man of the match and the most talented footballer on the park by a good stretch Aaron Doherty (2), Pauric O’Neill and Shane Gillespie kicked the points for Colaiste na Carraige as they outscored Abbey by four points to one in extra-time.
Centre half-back Doherty ended the game with 1-4 to his name; the goal on the stroke of full-time paved the way for the grandstand finish before Shane Gillespie’s equaliser two minutes into stoppage time.
And what a goal it was. Doherty, up from the back and his side trailing by four points, 0-10 to 1-11, rounded two defenders before switching feet to slip the ball inside Freddie Cullen’s left hand post. The ‘keeper hadn’t a chance from ten metres from what was simply a super strike and a score of real quality.
With their dander up and Abbey reeling, two minutes later Shane Gillespie, who also had a fine game on the ‘40’, raided on the right wing before curling over the leveller from 30 metres to complete the comeback.
Abbey were left to rue a missed first half Jack Keaney penalty and a failure to kick on when they moved 1-11 to 0-8 clear in the three quarter mark, having totally dominated the third quarter.
Powered by Tom O’Grady and Neil Ward in the middle of the park, Adam McCrea and John Relihan prodding and probing from half-back and the roving Peadar Mogan, Abbey looked in a different league in the 15 minutes after half-time.
And in that period they outscored the Carrick boys by seven points - Mogan, Jack Keaney (5), Neil Ward - their scorers to a solitary reply from Lanty Molloy.
It wasn’t as if they weren’t aware of Colaiste Na Carraige’s scoring threat and refusal to roll over when things were not going their way.
Those qualities were also pretty obvious in the second quarter as Colaiste Na Carraige stormed back into the tie as they hit five points to Abbey’s one.
Abbey led 1-3 to 0-2 after 12 minutes and enjoyed the better of the opening possession stakes as they looked a class above Paddy Boyle’s Carrick boys.
John Relihan, Jack Keaney and Eoin Slevin posted the early Abbey points to one from Molloy before Slevin was brought down by Ronan O’Hare for the penalty. That was on nine minutes. Keeper O’Hare picked up a black card for the offence and Keaney drove the resultant shot from the penalty spot wide of replacement ‘keeper Colm Garvey.
Three minutes later Garvey was plucking the ball out of the back of his net beaten by Slevin after good approach play from Fergal Callaghan and Thomas McGowan.
But amazingly a fine strike from Iarlaith Cox, was Abbey’s only point in the remaining 20 minutes as Lanty Molloy and Brian O’Donnell took control of midfield and Aaron Doherty drove forward at very opportunity.
Molloy, Brian O’Donnell (2) and Doherty (2) knocked over the points to send the sides in level 0-7 to 1-4 at half-time.
Colaiste Na Carraige: Ronan O’Hare; Fionn Gallagher, Conor Carr, Pauric McShane; Paddy McShane, Aaron Doherty (1-4,1f), Jordan Burns; Brian O’Donnell (0-2), Lanty Molloy (0-3); Gary Molloy, Shane Gillespie (0-3), Kenny Doogan; Tadghg McGinley, Pauric O’Neill (0-4), Oran Doogan. Subs: Colm Garvey for R O’Hare (Black card 10); Raymond O’Donnell for P McShane (54, inj).
Abbey VS: Freddie Cullen: Colm McDonald, Dan Meehan, Jamie Burke; Gareth Cleary, Adam McCrea, John Relihan (0-2); Tom O’Grady, Neil Ward (0-1); Fergal O’Callaghan, Jack Keaney (0-6,2f), Iarlaith Cox (0-1); Peadar Mogan (0-1), Thomas McGowan (0-1,1f), Eoin Slevin (1-1). Subs: Thomas Gallagher for F O’Callaghan (34); Ken Monaghan for G Cleary; Sean Meehan for T McGowan (both, 60); Thomas McGowan for J Keaney (start of extra-time).
Referee: Ryan Walsh (Bundoran).