Colaiste na Carraige might’ve flown from the traps in their Ulster U-16 Vocational Schools quarter-final but were they eventually wound in by St Joseph’s from Coalisland at Celtic Park in Derry on Friday.
Colaiste na Carraige 0-7
St Jospeh’s, Coalisland 0-11
The thing that would have frustrated manager Paddy Boyle was this was a game his team could have won. Long-odds underdogs they certainly were but Carrick can look back at enjoying a four-point lead a quarter of the way through, staying level at worst until 11 minutes from time, plus a succession of squandered opportunities after half-time.
The Donegal champions, who defeated Carndonagh Community School just three days beforehand in Termon, were 0-6 to 0-4 in front at the start of the second half. However, within eight seconds of referee Ciaran Brolly tossing the ball into the air Ronan Fox had halved the Tyrone team’s deficit before the wing-forward levelled matters two minutes later.
At this particular juncture, Carrick had most of the ball but inexplicably hit six successive wides, with the depressing series of events punctuated only by a couple of balls dropping into goalkeeper Daniel Davidson’s hands.
St Jospeh’s were managing to keep in the game as each passing miss only served to further deflate those from Carrick. And from a whirlwind break the Coalisland team almost took full advantage when Gerard Woods shot for goal and Padraig Byrne saved with his feet before Matthew Byrne took the ball away from full-back.
That was the final warning shot as St Joseph’s took the lead from their next attack when Shane Donnelly was alive to receive a quickly-taken 45. A minute later, Woods turned to put the northerners two points up, 0-8 to 0-6.
When Aodhan McGinley popped over a routine free at the other end for his sixth of the day, the more worrying statistic was that it was Carrick’s first score in 29 minutes of football. And although trailing by one with only eight left to play they knew if they could sort out their inadequacies in front of goal then a single kick of the ball would level the game.
It was, however, St Joseph’s who finished the stronger and they would score three times in the last four minutes to give the scoreboard perhaps a more comfortable look than it deserved. At the same time, though, had the contest lasted, say, another 10 minutes then the margin of victory would’ve been much more than four.
Donal Robinson curled in his side’s ninth of the afternoon before Darren Devlin’s effort enabled them to hit double figures. And whatever lingering hopes Carrick might’ve ascertained were finally eradicated when Fox lampooned over an excellent point to seal the deal.
Seeing Carrick on the backfoot late on wasn’t how you would’ve called it early on. Maybe it was the second game in four days catching up with them, while St Jospeh’s had a week to recover after their win over St Ciaran’s from Ballygawley.
Or maybe the Ulster champions underestimated the team from southwest Donegal but it was a whirlwind start and one that gave their few supporters in the Celtic Park stand flirtatious notions. After 16 minutes, Aodhan McGinley had scored four points, two from frees, whilst he flittered between full-forward and centre-field.
Eighteen minutes in, Robinson, in a bid to score St Joesph’s first of the day, placed a free of no more than 20 metres out wide of the post and it seemed the music would stop with the parcel in Carrick’s hands.
It was Cathair Quinn who finally got St Joseph’s motoring, scoring three consecutive points bunched around Stephen McBrearty’s for Carrick. And although McGinley scored his fifth - this time with a fine effort on the turn – and Carrick’s full-back line were performing admirably, when Woods scored the final score of the first half there was an ominous look about the second.
In the end, the stats don’t lie. Six of St Joseph’s front eight scored, while none of Carrick’s first six did. Byrne and his team will learn from Friday, in what was essentially, a victory for experience over innocence.
Colaiste na Carraige: Padraig Byrne; Cormac Cannon, Martin Byrne, Philip McNern; Andrew McClean, Pauric Ward, Stephen Jones; Stephen McBrearty (0-1), Aodhán McGinley (0-6, 3f); Philip Doherty, Padraig Cunningham, Eoin O’Leime; Chris Doogan, Conor Doherty, Jamie McGinley.
St Joseph’s College, Coalisland: Daniel Davidson; Owen Canavan, Rhys Quinn, Patrick Bleeks; Conor Rourke, Connor Quinn, Shea Devlin; Darren Devlin (0-1), Shane Donnelly (0-1); Ronan Fox (0-3), Donal Robinson (0-1), Gerard Quinn; Conor McLaughlin, Cathair Quinn (0-3), Gerard Woods (0-2). Sub: Matthew Campbell for Woods (54).
Referee: Ciaran Brolly (John Mitchell’s, Claudy).
Man of the match
Aodhan McGinley was once again the stand-out figure for Carrick Vocational School. After his fine showing in the county final, McGinley started excellently on Friday. But whilst trying to play between midfield and the full-forward line, St Joseph’s eventually squeezed out his threat and took over themselves. They had more danger in the forward line with Cathair Quinn, Gerard Woods and, in particular Ronan Fox, impressing.
There were a few qualms for Carrick after the game about the way in which Ciaran Brolly handled the game. The Derry official, they claimed, had a poor game and they were right to a degree. Although there seemed to be little malice from the match official, there were some confusing calls but Carrick should not use the referee as an excuse for their defeat.
St Jospeh’s turned the screw gradually but it was the type of game that you could see unfolding the way in did even when Carrick were ahead. Whilst their reliance on Aodhan McGinley was too much, the Coalisland team had more strings to their bow, offensively at least and when Ronan Fox scored successive points to bring his side level at the start of the second half the tide had turned.
Boyle regrets missed opportunity