Carndonagh Community School's supremely talented First Year Boys have been in ruthless form in both defence and attack this season but they know they face their biggest test yet in tomorrow’s All Ireland Final in the impressive surroundings of The Showgrounds in Sligo.
Liam Monagle’s boys have banged home 13 goals while conceding just three on their way to the biggest game of their lives, but they know they will have to reach a new level against Connacht Champions Calasanctius College of Oranmore.
The Galway school dumped pre tournament favourites De La Salle Waterford out of the competition with a hard fought 2-1 win in the semi-finals and will therefore go into the final as narrow favourites.
Carn played De La Salle in the 2008 decider that ended in victory for the Leinster Champions but, given the upsets they have already achieved this year, they will be quietly confident of going one better in 2014.
St Eunan’s were heavily backed to claim the Ulster crown this year and Carn got the most difficult possible first round draw when they drew the Letterkenny giants in their own back yard in the first round.
A confidence boosting 1-0 win started off their campaign on a high however and they followed that up by travelling to the lion’s den again to defeat their Inishowen neighbours Scoil Mhuire on a 3-1 scoreline in Buncrana the following week.
Their goal scoring ability seemed to improve with every game as they defeated Carrickmacross 4-1 in the Ulster Semi-Final before romping to a 6-0 win in the Ulster Final at the Lakeside in Aileach.
Last week they booked their place in the final with a 3-0 win over Leinster Champions Colaiste Ris of Dundalk in Gortakeegan where they netted their goals in the first half before defending their lead effectively in the second and their manager admits they are raring to go for the final.
“They are a talented group but they are also have a high workrate which makes them very hard to beat,” Monagle told the Inish Times. “We have a number of players who are involved with the Inishowen Academy but all of them are very capable players and there aren’t any weak links in the team.
“We’re in a good position where we are scoring a lot of goals and not conceding many. Keenan Gallagher has been our main goal scorer while at the other end our back four have been very solid and our goalkeeper Daniel McCallion has made some really important saves.”
The manager has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal for the final with familiar names from Inishowen Academy sides Michael Friel, Conor O’Donnell and Jake Harkin all expected to start.
They also boast a real dead ball specialist in Corey McBride who plays his club football in Derry with Foyle Harps.
By Johnny Craig
Stay updated on tomorrow's game on donegalnow.com and for a full report and reaction from the final see next week's Inish Times.
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