Shaun Kennedy on the ball for Abbey VS in the Markey semi-final PICTURE: THOMAS GALLAGHER
Abbey VS, Donegal stuck to their task in a tight finish to reach the Ulster final of the Markey Cup this afternoon in Irvinestown.
Abbey VS 0-13
St Ciarans, Ballygawley 1-8
The Donegal town school had to withstand a late rally from the Ballygawley boys, for whom Peter Canavan's son, Ruairi, made a significant contribution when introduced at half-time.
Abbey had a real hero in centre-half-back Michael Coughlan, who was a powerful presence and he won many frees with his driving runs, the most important in added time, which allowed Cian Hegarty to hit an insurance point as the clock ticked.
Abbey, with the advantage of a strong breeze, led 0-7 to 0-3 at the break, four of those points coming in the last seven minutes, two from Jamie Crawford frees and two from play by Shea Travers.
The lively Ryan Brogan won a free for Hegarty to stretch that lead to five within two minutes of the restart, and Abbey dominated the next 10 minutes, but didn't add to their tally.
On another day it could have come back to haunt them. St Ciarans were back in the contest when Ethan Neill hit 1-1 in the space of two minutes, but from there to the finish, the Abbey boys showed their determination, matching the Tyrone boys score for score.
When it was needed Michael Statham and captain Jamie Crawford stepped up while Hegarty hit three points from frees to ease nerves.
Abbey can thank 'keeper Enda O'Hagan for a number of great stops, one in the first half with his legs, and one from point blank range in the final quarter.
Overall, Abbey were just about the better team and can look forward with confidence to the final against either St. Columbs, Derry or Coláiste na Carraige, who meet in the second semi-final tomorrow in Strabane.
ABBEY VS: Enda O'Hagan; Shane Meehan, Brian Fegan, Aidan McHugh; Ryan Brogan, Michael Coughlan, Richard O'Rourke (0-1); Jamie Crawford (0-3,3f), Oisin Reid; Cathal Feeney, Michael Statham (0-1), Daniel Gallagher; Shea Travers (0-2), Cian Hegarty (0-5,4f), Shaun Kennedy (0-1). Subs., Ian Campbell for Kennedy; Oran Quinn for Travers, both 50; Thomas White for O'Rourke; Alex McCalmont for Feeney, bot 60.
ST CIARANS, BALLYGAWLEY: Stephen McMenamin; John Hetherington, Brendan Quinn, Michael Quinn; Finbar McElroy, Conor Quinn, Peadar Kane (0-1); Oran Treacy, Joe Oguz (0-1); Conor McAleer, Mark Monaghan (0-1), Ethan Neill (1-1); Ciaran Bogue (0-1), Oran Robinson (0-1), Pauric Traynor. Subs., Ruairi Canavan (0-2,1f) for McElroy ht.
REFEREE: Gerry McLaughlin (Fermanagh)