St Columba’s Community School’s bid for a place in a second Markey Cup final in-a-row came unstuck against Fermanagh Schools, on Friday night, at the Bawnacre in Irvinestown.
Fermanagh Schools . . . . . 0-14
St Columba’s CS . . . . . . . . . 0-11
Three points separated the sides at the finish with the Fermanagh amalgamation fully deserving of the victory against a St Columba’s side that never really clicked.
They just lacked that bite needed up front against a well organised and well drilled Fermanagh defence.
All the good St Columba’s performances were in defence where Joe Melly and Cian Doherty were tigerish in the corners and time after time averted Fermanagh danger. Logan Quinn and Danny Walsh also turned in big performances with Walsh particularly strong in the second period.
Patrick Gallagher, in goals, also pulled off a number of good saves while Kieran Gallagher won a good deal of possession in the middle of the park and kicked two good points.
Up front, while the enjoyed a more than liberal supply of ball, especially in the first quarter, they simply took too much out of the ball and tried to work through a packed defence than having a shot from a little further out.
This was something Fermanagh did to great effect in the second half when playing with the aid of a strong breeze and especially in the closing minutes to shut out the game.
St Columba’s missed the attacking influence and cutting edge of Naomh Conaill senior star Eoghan McGettigan, who is currently sidelined with a hip injury.
Ardara sharpshooter, Stefan Boyle, was unable to start but was introduced in the second half and kicked two points from frees.
St Columba’s were a pale shadow of the side that cruised through the Donegal championship and that came from nine points down against Breiffne College, in the quarter-final, to win by three at the end of a nine goal thriller.
The Fermanagh boys laid the foundation for the famous victory in the second quarter and after being under the cosh for the most of the opening 15 minutes.
And they would have been very happy going in just a point adrift at half-time having played into a stiff breeze.
St Columba’s led 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time after dominating the opening fifteen minutes. But the warning signs began to show in this period of St Columba domination. The Donegal champions had only four points on the board for all their domination in that opening quarter-hour with the Fermanagh boys, who proved a good bit more clinical and economical in front of the posts, registered two points.
Paul McGuinness, Kieran Gallagher, Jack Flannery (13 metre free) and Johnny Sweeney kicked the St Columba points. Jason Flanagan (with the game’s opening score) and Ryan Morris posted the Fermanagh points.
The game turned on a point blank save from Thomas Curran in the Fermanagh goals to deny Logan Quinn a green flag early in the second quarter.
Conor McGann and Adam McHugh traded points before Flanagan and Conor McDermott kicked two super points to tie up the game on 0-5 each. And they were level once more before half time before Kieran Gallagher with a good run and point sent the Donegal boys in 0-7 to 0-6 in front at the interval.
Morris, Flanagan and McGann found the target on the resumption to propel the locals into a 0-9 to 0-7 lead by the three quarter mark. Danny Walsh, with a good individual score, reduced the margin back to one.
But with Fermanagh tails up the impressive Paul O’Reilly and Flanagan responded to increase the Fermanagh lead out to three with the clock ticking.
Twice in a frantic finish Simon Breslin and Stefan Boyle reduced the margin to one before O’Reilly and Cameron O’Brien closed the game out in injury time.
St Columba’s CS: Patrick Gallagher; Joe Melly, Brian Whyte, Cian Doherty; Logan Quinn, John Ross Molloy, Danny Walsh (0-1); Kieran Gallagher (0-2), Senan Boyle; Adam McHugh (0-1), Jack Brennan, Johnny Sweeney (0-1); Jack Flannery (0-1,f), Simon Breslin (0-2), Paul McGuinness (0-1). Subs: Stefan Boyle (0-2,2f) for J Sweeney; Nathan Byrne for P McGuinness (44).
Femanagh VS: Thomas Curran; Cathal Lynam, James McQuaid, Chris McCabe; James Toye, Enda Cassidy, Kevin Smith; Aaron Calders, Ryan Morris (0-2); Conor McGann (0-2), Cameron O’Brien (0-1), Paul O’Reilly (0-3); Colm McNally, Jason Flanagan (0-5), Conor Goodwin. Subs: Conor McDermott (0-1) for J Toye (h/t); Ryan Boyle for A Calders (33, inj); Tristan Lynch for C Goodwin (44).