Underdogs Carn put in a near flawless performance at Maginn Park to claim the coveted U12 cup.
Two first half goals from Cormac McLaughlin gave the St Patrick’s Park outfit the upper hand heading into the second half, and though Luke O’Donnell pegged one back for Cockhill, the Carn defence held firm to hold on for victory.
Star of the second half was Carn keeper Daniel McDaid, who produced a series of jaw-dropping saves to deny a rampant Cockhill side that dominated possesion in the latter stages of the match.
League champions Cockhill came into this match on a high after putting a glut of goals past QPS in their two-legged semi-final, and they will have been strongly fancied for the double.
But though Carn’s semi-final victory over Clonmany was less emphatic, it was arguably the best they’ve played all season and confidence was high.
From the whistle, they looked the hungrier of the two sides and Cockhill found themselves in the unusual position of being on the back foot as Carn striker Ellie McLaughlin - the only girl on the pitch - made life difficult for their defenders.
Young Cormac McLaughlin looked fiercely determined to make the scoresheet for Carn, and his dream came true on 15 minutes when Cormac O’Kane’s free kick was parried by the Cockhill keeper and the wily striker pounced to tap home the rebound.
Carn kept up the pressure, and just before half time McLaughlin bagged his double when driving home another loose ball.
As expected, Cockhill made a few substitutions and came out all guns blazing in the second half.
Carn could do nothing but bed in and hope to weather the storm for the next 35 minutes.
They were coping admirably, but midway through the half Cockhill got back into it when Luke O’Donnell’s free slid under McDaid’s body and into the back of the net.
The young keeper looked visibly annoyed at letting the goal in - but he made up for it in spades over the course of the remaining 15 minutes.
With catlike reflexes, he pulled off some outstanding saves to deny both Danny and Cahir McDaid, and played a big part in his side’s ultimate victory.
Carn created little in the way of chances in the second half, though Ellie kept possession for vital seconds at a time up front and their midfield heroically refused to let the Cockhill boys have it all their own way.
The side, with manager Lorcan Bradley nervously watching from the sidelines, held onto their lead, and the celebrations were all the sweeter at the end given the calibre of the Cockhill side they had just beaten.
In a bitter sweet moment, it was Tiernan Kelly who lifted the trophy for his side. The youngster is moving to England with his family and they put their flights back a week so he could play one last game with his teammates.
He was made captain for the day, and nobody looked more chuffed than Tiernan when he was handed the trophy.
This year’s underage finals have been hugely entertaining - the Inishowen League senior sides who make it to Maginn this season have big boots to fill.
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