It may be mid-term break this week, but that counts little for the U-16 footballers of Colaiste Na Carraige who are in Ulster Schools’ semi-final action tomorrow (Friday).
The game against St. Colm’s, Draperstown, has been fixed for Sean MacCumhaill Park, with a throw-in time of 11.30 am. The Derry side stand between Paddy Boyle’s boys and a place in the Ulster final.
The Carrick nursery go into the game on the back of a 4-17 to 1-4 no contest victory over St. Joseph’s, Enniskillen, in Bundoran on Friday last. The game was as good as over after three minutes courtesy of three Colaiste Na Carraige goals from Philip McNern, Pauric O’Neill and Padraig Byrne. Brian O’Donnell netted the Donegal boys’ fourth goal before half-time to send his team in 4-8 to 0-1 in front at the break.
“It was an easy victory alright. But we are expecting a much sterner test this week against St. Colm’s,” said Paddy Boyle, the Colaiste Na Carraige manager. “We don’t know a lot about St. Colm’s, but they are coached by a fellow called Ciaran Meaney, and we know from experience any team Ciaran is involved with will be well prepared.
“They defeated the Monaghan champions in their quarter-final and Monaghan schools are normally strong and like all Derry teams they will be all good footballers so we are expecting a fairly stiff test.”
The result apart against St. Josephs, the other big plus from that game, Boyle says, was that they got to look at their subs bench as Colaiste Na Carraige used seven replacements in the course of the game.
“We had a couple of close games here in Donegal and we did not get the opportunity to see all our players. But Friday’s game afforded us that opportunity and we have a better idea of what we have available to us now which will be helpful as you advance and the opposition gets stronger.”
Full-back Jamie McGinley and half-back Jason McGill are both carrying knocks and are Boyle’s only injury worries.
McGinley twisted his knee in the closing seconds of last Friday’s game and is the manager’s biggest concern, while McGill is receiving treatment for a slight groin strain.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that Jamie and Jason will be fit to play. We are monitoring them and they are receiving treatment and we are going to give them every chance. It will be Friday before we will know for definite if they are good to go. It is a matter of being patient now and give them every chance to recover.”
While expecting a tough challenge from the Derry boys, Boyle insists that his boys are confident in their own ability and it is all about concentrating on their own game.
“If we play to our strenghts and we get the breaks I’m feeling confident that we will be more than a match for St. Colm’s and hopefully we will come out on top and make it through to the final.”
Colaiste Na Carraige are a well drilled and well oiled unit with each player having their own role and the system down to a tee.
School senior players Padraig Byrne, Pauric Cunningham, Conor Doherty, Philip McNern, Christopher Byrne and Jamie McGinley are the main stays.
Philip Dohetry, Pauric O’Neill, Brian O’Donnell, Jason McGill and Dominic Gallagher are others who have blossomed in this year’s campaign and make Colaiste Na Carraige a pretty formidable outfit.
They are a side that has the balance that are more than capable of making it through to the final at least.
Colaiste Na Carraige trained on Tuesday and have the game tomorrow. So much for mid-term break.