St Columba’s got caught with a late Virginia College rally in a high quality Markey Cup semi-final played in Garvaghey, on Friday.
St. Columba’s CS, Glenties 1-12
Virginia College 3-13
The Glenties boys were Donegal runners’ up and went into the game very much as the underdogs against the Cavan champions, the bulk of whose team were in the Cavan county side beaten at the end of last year by Donegal, in the Ulster Vocational Schools’ final.
But for well over three quarters of this tie, St Columba’s were the better side with Ethan O’Donnell the outstanding player on the park.
They led by a point, 1-11 to 1-10, with under a quarter hour remaining having trailled 1-5 to 0-9 at half-time after playing into a biting cold and howling wind in the opening 30 minutes.
However, after having taken the game to the Cavan boys, they were turned over in the closing ten minutes as Virginia hit 2-3 to a solitary St Columba’s point, to book a Markey final place against Donegal champions Colaiste na Carraige.
In fairness to the Cavan champions, they lived up to their highly fancied billing in the closing quarter as they closed out the game without any great fuss. They never at any stage panicked and just coolly and clinically hit the front when it mattered. Interestingly too, three of four second half substitutes Evan Doughty (2), Jason McMahon and James Brady, one each, got their names on the scoresheet and made a significant contribution to the victory.
Sean Reilly and Ryan Mannion scored the crucial goals. Reilly struck the first on the three quarter mark to tie up the game at 1-10 each after Odhran Molloy(2), Ethan O’Donnell, Charles McGuinness and Shane O’Donnell had propelled St Columba’s into a 1-10 to 0-10 lead. And Mannion struck for the second nine minutes from time and significantly minutes after Odhran Molloy was denied at the other end by a brilliant save from Kealan O’Connell, in the Virginia goals.
Molloy, who was joint top scorer on four points with Ethan O’Donnell, found himself in one of those situations where the goal chance was on, but with his team a point in front, a point might have been a better option.
But the save from a O’Connell, who had also got down well to save from Molloy earlier in the half, was most definitely a turning point as seconds later Jason McMahon scored for Virginia to tie up the game before Mannion hit the St Columba’s rigging to put Virginia back in front.
Kevin Whyte scored the St Columba’s goal five minutes from half-time to deservedly bring the Donegal boys to within a point of the Cavan men who led 0-7 to 0-3 before Whyte blasted to the net after being sent clear by Ethan O’Donnell.
Boosted by the goal, Charles McGuinness and O’Donnell pointed to temporarly edge St Columbas into a 1-5 to 0-7 lead before Darren McEnroe and Mannion brought the curtain down on the first half scoring.
In the end, it was disappointment and what might have been for St Columba’s. It was particularly disappointing for man of the match Ethan O’Donnell, Kevin McGettigan, Kevin Whyte, Jamie Coyle, Odhran Molly and John McDyre, who all turned in big performances.
The game had two black cards - Eoin Sommerville, Virgina College, in the middle of the second half and Ethan O’Donnell, who shipped a number of heavy knocks throughout, deep in injury time at the end of the game.
St Coumba’s CS: Ryan McGonagle; John Ross Molloy, Stephen Moore, John McDyre; Conor McCahill, Kevin McGettigan, Sean McMonagle; Jamie Coyle, Kevin Whyte (1-0); Conor Bonner, Shane O’Donnell (0-1), Ethan O’Donnell (0-4,1f); Odhran Molloy (0-4), Charles McGuinness (0-3,1f), Christan Bonner. Subs: Stephen Boyle for C McGuinness (53), Adam McHugh for C Bonner (54), Eoin Spence for E O’Donnell (Black card 60);
Virginia College: K O’Connell; P O’Connell, M Magee, P Gargan; E Sommerville, B O’Connell, C Maguire; S McDermott (1-0), B Magee (0-1); S Reilly (1-1), C Brady, R Mannion (1-1); A O’Reilly (0-4), S Brady, D McEnroe (0-2). Subs: E Doughty (0-2) for D McEnroe (34), J Brady (0-1) for S Brady (48); J McMahon (0-1) for C Maguire (49), L Caffrey for E Sommerville (Black card 50), C Flanagan for A Reilly (58).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).