Carndonagh Community School claimed a historic victory over St. Columbia’s College Stranorlar yesterday in the Ulster final, beating them 3-8 to 1-10.
This is the first time a Gaelic team from the school has won an Ulster final and the second time one of their teams has gotten to a Markey Cup final.
The last chance at Ulster glory was 22 years ago when the U16 team had their win stolen in the last play of the game.
The manager of yesterday’s trimphant squad, John Farren, was also a coach of that U16 side that narrowly missed out in 1996.
He told the Inish Times: “To come back now and win is like coming back an excorising our demons
“The school hasn’t got a great history in terms of Ulster because there’s such stiff competition, but the calibre of this year’s squad is really exceptional.”
Winning on the Ulster stage is a big achievement for any team, but this year’s squad had a personal stake in yesterday’s game. The U16 team was beaten by St. Columb’s last year in the Ulster semi final, and many of those players were glad to get another go at their arch rivals.
“The big difference last year was Connor O’Donnell, plain and simple,” said Farren, who was assissted on the sidelines this year by Conor McDonagh.
Rising star O’Donnell, who was out at the time of last year’s semi final, certainly had a large influence on yesterday’s match and scored a goal in the second half to bring the team back from four points down. He was named man of the match for his efforts.
Another factor in favour of the Inishowen boys was the turnout from friends and family to come watch the game. According to Farren: “It wasn’t just the supporters’ bus, the amount of parents who drove up themselves was fantastic for the players.”
Many of the players were in the Colaisti Inis Eoghain squad that took part in the McLarnon Cup earlier in the year and will be on next year’s 18.5 lineup, which is set to be as strong as the one from this year, if not stronger. That’s not to take away from this year’s group, who were aiming high since the year began.
And after the victory yesterday, proud coach Farren kept a promise he made at the start of the year – if they won an Ulster trophy, he vowed to have his head shaved.
As soon as the team retired to their changing room, the razor was brought out and John quickly gained an affinity for hats.
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.