JUST WHEN the thoughts were turning to extra time, Cathal Farren struck gold to fire Carndonagh Community School to glory in the Ulster Senior Schools final in Convoy.
Carndonagh Community School 2 Loreto Community School, Milford 1
The darkening skies were looming large over Orchard Park – a late saviour after the pitches at Aileach and Cockhill were deemd unplayable – when Farren pounced for a winner eight minutes from the end.
Farren’s 52nd minute penalty had cancelled out a 39th minute goal from a penalty by Connor Gormley, which arrived very much against the run of play in the first half.
Martin Kavanagh’s Carndonagh conjoured the winner when substitute Declan McLaughlin off-loaded for Farren, whose shot crept past a number of bodies in the goalmouth.
It sparked a jubilant reaction although the Derry City striker’s celebration might have lit a fuse.
The tensions on the sideline were clear throughout and after firing home, Farren made a beeline for the Loreto, Milford dugout. It was just as well that the spark didn’t catch fire with his opponents clearly irked and the player was perhaps fortunate that referee Vincent McLoughlin didn’t take action.
Farren had hit an equalising goal seven minutes into the second half. Sean Little was penalised for a foul on Christy McLaughlin, who was a constant terror for Milford, and Farren converted the penalty.
Carndonagh thought that they’d equalised when Keelan Doherty shot to the net only 16 seconds into the second half, but an offside flag from assistant referee Gerry Gallagher cut short the celebrations.
Glengad wide man McLaughlin was the provider there, too, after he surged past Paddy Carr to centre for Doherty.
Carndonagh, beaten finalists last year, set the tone from early on. Sam Todd screwed wide in the opening minute while Shane Graham, the Milford goalkeeper, saved superbly from Brandon Browne’s delicate header after he connected with Joshua Lafferty’s free.
Graham parried away a stinging drive from Farren and then saved from Doherty as Carndonagh turned the screw.
Todd was denied by Graham, who somehow managed to keep out an attempt by Farren as the mercury rose.
Loreto, Milford couldn’t get a foothold, but they were given more than a lifeline when, six minutes before the break, Ryan Toye was tugged back by Darragh Folan and Gormley stepped up to score the penalty.
After Farren equalised, Gormley saw a header hooked off the goal-line by James McKinney.
Declan McLaughlin was set up by Evan Tweed, but had too much leverage on his shot and, in the dying seconds, it took a magnificent save by Graham to turn away a shot from Declan McLaughlin that seemed destined for the top corner.
Carndonagh Community School: Daniel Houghton; James McKinney, Sam Todd, Darragh Folan, Brian McEleney; Christy McLaughlin, Joshua Lafferty, Evan Tweed (Fionn McClure ’80), Brandon Browne; Keelan Doherty (Declan McLaughlin ’60), Cathal Farren.
Loreto Community School, Milford: Shane Graham; Paddy Carr (Mark Wilson ’89), Derek Edwards, Enda McCormick, Gavin Grier; Adam Serrinha, Connor Gormley (Cormac Toland ’90), Ryan Toye (Marty Doyle ’76), Sean Little; Shane McNamee, Adrian Delap.
Referee: Vincent McLoughlin.Tags: