Colaisti Inis Eoghain 4-10
Patrician Carrickmacross 2-13
Colaisti Inis Eoghain set up the first part of a potential all Donegal Mac Larnon Cup final when they had three points to spare over Carrickmacross in Garvaghey yesterday (Sunday).
Captain Darach O’Connor was Inis Eoghain’s top man, hitting a stunning 3-5 to lead his side into the final in this, their maiden season in the Mac Larnon Cup.
St Eunan’s College can make the St Patrick’s Day decider an all Donegal affair when they take on St Malachy’s of Belfast in the other semi final on Wednesday night.
His three goals from play, each one better than the one that went before, were crucial in securing Inishowen’s passage to the final.
Carrickmacross had hit the net as early as the ninth minute through Ronan McDonald and led by 1-5 to 0-3 five minutes before half time.
But up stepped O’Connor who converted two frees on either side of a 27th minute goal when he somehow held off the attention of four defenders to finish to the net.
The sides were tied 1-5 apiece at half time, and Inis Eoghain made their move in the early moments of the second half.
With the impressive Caolan McGonagle winning the throw-in, Sean McHugh perfectly weighted a high ball into full forward Kevin McLaughlin who plucked it from the air, swivelled away from his marker and rifled it to the net with scarcely 20 seconds on the clock.
Inis Eoghain were in dreamland moments later when O’Connor intercepted Shane Garland’s quick kick-out and showed the defence a clean pair of heels as he raced forward and slammed the ball high to the net.
Carrickmacross were reeling, but Aaron Jones staunched the flow when he converted a close range point for the Monaghan side, but the respite was brief.
John Campbell, one of four Inis Eoghain players in Declan Bonner’s county minor squad, gave a pass to O’Connor out by the 45m line.
O’Connor gave another glimpse of his frightening pace, soloing goalwards while leaving defenders sprawling in his wake, and completed his hat-trick with a sublime finish to put Inis Eoghain eight points clear, 4-5 to 1-6, with just eight minutes of the second half gone.
Carrickmacross, who hit 1-22 while dismissing Knock of Belfast in their quarterfinal, are no mean side and they reeled off five unanswered points, three from Donal Meegan and one apiece from Dara Rowe and Stephen Cunningham, to leave just three between the sides by the 47th minute.
O’Connor pointed a free won by Kevin McLaughlin to break the Monaghan’s side momentum, but Carrickmacross came right back into contention when Aaron Jones deceived his marker with an outrageous dummy and finished high to the roof of Jordan McLaughlin’s net.
Inis Eoghain’s lead, which had earlier stood at eight points, was down to a single point and the outcome hung in the balance as the game entered its final ten minutes.
Led by defenders Tony McClenaghan, Gary Doherty and Stephen O’Donnell, and the strong running of midfielder Caolan McGonagle, Inis Eoghain awoke from their slumber and came to grips with the hitherto rampant Patrician attack, but with O’Connor and Meegan exchanging points, there was little between the teams.
Inis Eoghain showed great patience in the lead up to a 55th minute point from John Campbell, retaining possession until they got the big Buncrana man into a scoring situation and he slotted confidently over the bar.
Campbell’s next contribution was the winning of the game. He was fouled as he won the kickout and with the free kick brought forward for dissent he stroked it over to give Inis Eoghain a three point cushion with five minutes remaining.
Carrickmacross continued to carry the game to Inis Eoghain and Meath county minor Dara Rowe hit an excellent point from the right to leave just two between the sides as the clock ticked towards the hour mark.
O’Connor, who had been relatively quiet since hitting his third goal, had a hand in setting up Sean McHugh for a pop at the posts in injury time and the Burt man duly obliged to seal a three point win.
Manager Sean Noonan and his Inis Eoghain team now have a St Patrick’s Day final to look forward to. They will surely be interested spectators in Garvaghey on Wednesday evening when St Eunan’s College look to join them in that decider.
Colaisti Inis Eoghain: Jordan McLaughlin; Danny Monagle, Jack O’Loughlin, Stephen O’Donnell; Gary Doherty, Tony McClenaghan, Sam Doherty; Caolan McGonagle, Fergal Doherty; Mark Coyle, Darach O’Connor (3-5, 0-5f), Sean McHugh (0-1); John Campbell (0-4, 2f), Kevin McLaughlin (1-0), Shane McLaughlin. Subs: James Jackson for M Coyle (half time); Ultan Doherty for S McLaughlin (52 mins).
Patrician College Carrickmacross: Shane Garland; Cathal McKeown, Paul McArdle, Conor Duffy; David Wilson, Aaron Birdy, Mikey Murnaghan; Michael Metzger, Stephen Cunningham (0-1); Ronan McDonald (1-0), Paudie Kirk, Donal Meegan (0-6, 2f); Alan McCaughey, Dara Rowe (0-3), Aaron Jones (1-3, 2f). Subs: Conor Russell for C McKeown (half time); Corey Sullivan for R McDonald (51 mins); Daniel McDonald for M Murnaghan (55 mins).