All-Ireland Vocational Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship Final
Cnoc Mhuire, Granard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-13
Holy Trinity College, Cookstown (Tyrone) . . . 2-12
by Padraic O’Brien
Cnoc Mhuire, Granard were crowned All-Ireland Vocational Schools Senior ‘A’ Football champions for a historic first time and a wonderful win was achieved against the title holders Holy Trinity College, Cookstown who staged a dramatic late comeback in a frantic finish to a highly entertaining final at Croke Park on Saturday.
For most of this action-packed game Cnoc Mhuire were clearly the superior side and the Leinster champions had built up a most emphatic nine points lead (2-13 to 1-7) entering the final quarter of the contest when it looked all over.
Down to 14 players after midfielder Aidan McElligott was rather harshly sent-off after receiving a second yellow card in the 22nd minute of the first half, Cnoc Mhuire showed great courage to overcome this considerable handicap and led by 2-7 to 1-4 at the break with McElligott and Nigel Rabbitte scoring the crucial goals.
They surged even further ahead with three points in quick succession through David McGivney (free), Rian Brady and wing back Liam Sullivan in the early stages of the second half and while the Cookstown school battled back to close the gap with three scores (all from play), a very good point from Fionnan O’Reilly in the 40th minute eased the pressure on Cnoc Mhuire.
It got even better for the Granard side with Rian Brady and David McGivney converting a couple of frees, the latter on target in the 47th minute. But Holy Trinity College were not done for yet and a brace of scores from full-forward McGahan (free and play) gave them a glimmer of hope before Cookstown got the goal they so badly needed in the 56th minute when a shot from substitute Jason Rocks deflected off the unfortunate corner-back Isreal ILunga into the back of the net.
That gave Holy Trinity College a huge lift and three points in a row quickly followed from Rocks, Daryl Magee and Ryan Loughran to remarkably leave just the minimum of margins separating the sides with 59 minutes gone on the clock.
Cnoc Mhuire were really reeling on the ropes but somehow managed to hang on in capturing the All-Ireland title after Rocks and McGahan missed a couple of great chances of the equalising point for the Tyrone school.
CNOC MHUIRE, GRANARD: Luke Meehan (Mullinalaghta); Tadhg McGahern (Mullahoran), Diarmuid Fitzsimons (Mullahoran), Isreal ILunga (Castletown-Finea); Barry McKiernan (Abbeylara), Sean McKeogh (Mullahoran), Liam Sullivan (Granard, 0-1); David McGivney (Mullinalaghta, 0-5, all frees), Aidan McElligott (Mullinalaghta, 1-0); Anthony O’Reilly (Abbeylara), Mattie Gorman (Ballymore, 0-1), Ciaran Mallon (Granard); Rian Brady (Mullinalaghta, 0-5, one free), Nigel Rabbitte (Abbeylara, 1-0), Fionnan O’Reilly (Mullahoran, 0-1).
Sub:- Mark Kiernan (Ballymachugh) for A O’Reilly (25 mins); Aaron Brady (Gowna) for M Gorman (45 mins); M Gorman for B McKiernan (53 mins); B McKiernan for I ILunga (injured, 63 mins).
Read Padraic O’Brien’s full report in the next edition of the Longford Leader, on sale on Wednesday