A Declan Sharkey goal thirteen minutes from time sealed a momentous Ulster Cup victory for Deele College, the second in their history.
Played in the grounds of Clonmany Shamrocks, there was quite an atmosphere, with both teams bring plenty of noise and colour, which certainly added to the proceedings.
Going into the game as underdogs, the Raphoe men, who have taken notable scalps such as St Eunan’s and St Pat’s of Cavan, were expected to struggle against a very strong Carndonagh team, who boasted a number of Derry City U-19 players.
But it was the underdogs who took the lead, when Northern Ireland international, Alex Carolan found the net after great work from Simon McGlynn. The winger applied a fantastic finish, rifling the ball past Kevin McLaughlin in the Carndonagh net.
This was somewhat against the run of play, with Carndonagh having superior possession in the opening exchanges, but they could not turn their possession into clear cut chances. Sean Friel, the Deele net minder had a few saves to make, but none that really challenged him.
Manager, Michael Gallagher would have been more than pleased to lead his troops off the pitch, at half time with a 1-0 lead.
But the lead was short lived with Carndonagh restoring parity fifteen minutes into the second half from an in swinging free kick. This was a real setback for the Raphoe men, with Carndonagh now applying more and more pressure, as they looked to take the lead.
The Inishowen men had numerous chances to get their team in front, but the cross bar and some fine goalkeeping from Sean Friel was enough to keep them at bay.
Mid-way through the second half, Alex Carolan was taken off with an injury, with the speedy Oran Higgins making his entrance into the match. His pace was a real injection of energy for the Deele men and his running was causing real headaches for the Carndonagh defence.
The game was finely balanced, with few chances for either side until Declan Sharkey popped up with the winner with just thirteen minutes remaining. The move started with Sharkey beating the full back on the wing, before drifting inside and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the back of the net. This was a great individual effort, from a player, who has scored nine goals in the current campaign.
Intense pressure was applied by Carndonagh in the closing exchanges, but Deele held strong to book their place in the All-Ireland semi-final, against the Connaught champions. A great win for Michael Gallagher and his men, who will now be looking to All-Ireland glory.
Team: Sean Friel, Michael Ayton, Shane Meehan, Brett McGinty, Bryan McNamee, Phillip Doran, Alex Carolan, Oliver Quinn, Declan Sharkey, Simon McGlynn, Zak Brolly. Subs: Oran Higgins for Alex Carolan.
[flickr_set id =”72157650239608317″]