ST. EUNAN’S COLLEGE from Letterkenny were crowned Umbro FAI Schools All Ireland Junior Boys Champions this afternoon following a close encounter with Waterford’s De La Salle College at the Oscar Traynor Complex, Coolock.
St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny 3
De La Salle College, Waterford 1
Michael Harkin and Gerard Faulkner’s side took the lead in the 10th minute when Chris Flanagan volleyed the ball into the top corner, leaving keeper Paul O’Sullivan stunned. Six minutes later St Eunan’s doubled their lead with Cathal McDaid receiving a loose ball from a lacklustre De La Salle midfield. His left footed shot beat the keeper to establish a healthy cushion.
De La Salle fought back bravely with some excellent link up play between underage international Connor Whittle, Andrew Phelan and Joshuah Aimiuhi. It was Aimiuhi that came closest to scoring next for the Waterford side, his header going narrowly wide on 27 minutes.
Some strong running by McDaid saw St Eunan’s narrowly miss out on a third of the afternoon moments before the interval, but they had to be content with their two-goal advantage at the break.
De La Salle came out a much stronger team in the second half with mentor Maurice Brady giving some encouraging words at the break. A scramble in the box five minutes into the half saw Whittle and Niall McCabe striking goalward, however, the St Eunan’s defence were well coached in dealing with such threats and averted the danger impressively.
The Waterford students continued to apply the pressure, and their hard work eventually paid off with four minutes remaining when Jack Hale headed home from an in swinging corner kick.
De La Salle had an opportunity scorned to produce a wonderful equaliser as the lively Aimiuhi came one on one with Eunan’s shot stopper Shaun Patton. The young Finn Harps keeper, who has already played senior football, was alert to the challenge and produced a magnificent save. The ball was deflected out to goalscorer Hale but his pressure shot went skyward.
De La Salle were now throwing everything at the Eunan’s defence as they mounted a marvellous comeback in the dying minutes of the game. However, St. Eunan’s absorbed the pressure and got them on the break when substitute Michael Millar produced the Donegal sides third in the 80th minute, capping off an impressive performance from the Saints.
St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny: Shaun Patton, Eoin Barrett, Daire McDaid, Sean Hume, Jordan McBride, Dale Gorman, Aidan Sweeney, Chris Flanagan, Jason Doherty, Ryan Rainey, Cathal McDaid.
Subs: Jason Quinn, Thomas Grant, Ronan Sweeney, Luke Bonnar, Michael Millar.
De la Salle: Paul O’ Sullivan, Shane Mackey, Jack Maher, Dylan Foley, Jack Hale, Connor Whittle, Andrew Phelan, Dessie Hutchinson, Niall McCabe, Joshuah Aimiuhi, Daniel Pender.
Referee: Keith Thornton (Dublin).