De La Salle College produced a spellbinding performance in the Irish News Shield Final to overcome an exceptional St Kevin's Lisnaskea on a scoreline of 4-10 to 5-05 at a fresh and cold MUSA in Cookstown on Tuesday 19th December, to lift the Under 14.5 Ulster football title.
DLSC got off to the perfect start when Jaden Lynass hit the net with their first attack, which was quickly followed up by a smart point by Eamonn O'Connor. However, as expected, St Kevin's refused to allow La Salle to steamroll their way to victory and responded with a goal of their own to narrow the Edenmore students' lead to one point. An injury to Connor Gillen threatened to derail DLSC's fantastic start but luckily he was able to continue.
James O'Hara doubled his side's lead with a splendid score which St Kevin's responded to quickly with a point of their own. Lorcan Cordner stretched La Salle's lead again only for tragedy to strike when St Kevin's netted their second goal in an incident that also saw another injury to Gillen who had to leave the field to be replaced by Jackson Sweeney. The De La Salle halfback line of Pearse Nann, Sean og Montgomery and Cael Carmichael were the dominant line at this stage of the game.
Undeterred, DLSC responded in kind when another great move saw O'Hara net, despite fine saves from the Fermanagh keeper, to leave De La Salle 2-03 to 2-01 ahead. Cordner and Fionn Smyth added two points for La Salle which sandwiched a red card for St Kevin's, leaving the opposition down to 14. With Luke Branniff exerting his influence at midfield, Cordner was finding more space at this stage and scored perhaps the goal of the game when he dummied the Lisnaskea defence and left DLSC with a 3-05 to 2-01 advantage at the break.
St Kevin's again showed their mettle by bombarding the La Salle defence, with Tiernan Connolly emerging time after time, ably assisted by tigerish corner backs Jamie Hilland and Charlie Kennedy, to keep the Lisnaskea school from clawing their way back into the game. However, the Fermanagh students finally found a way through and scored their 3rd goal through a penalty and then added 4th goal to leave De La Salle with a one-point advantage again, 3-05 to 4-01.
St Kevin's smelt blood and scored the next three points to put them two points ahead, heading into a critical section of the game. Cordner pulled a point back for La Salle which was followed up by scores from O'Connor and Smyth to edge DLSC ahead again in a ding-dong battle.
This time it was St Kevin's turn to attack and leveled matters on a scoreline of 3-08 to 4-05. Tired limbs were starting to show as goal chances went begging at both ends. The La Salle management decided to freshen their team by bringing on Gabrielle Stitt for the industrious Caoimhin McGreevy.
O'Connor edged La Salle ahead again which was followed up by a goal after the referee awarded a hop ball in front of St Kevin's posts, after great work from full forward Aiden Smyth. With the Edenmore side four points up, St Kevin's responded immediately with another 3-pointer to leave DLSC only one point ahead again, 4-09 to 5-05. With the match finely poised, Cordner, who scored his side's first point of the day, added the last point of the match to leave De La Salle College 4-10 to 5-05 winners and Ulster Champions.
As the players celebrated with their managers Mr Doherty and Mr McCaul, the Irish News Shield was presented to a team that promises great times for the school in the future. We're immensely proud of each and every one.
De La Salle: C Gillen, J Hilland, T Connolly, C Kennedy, P Nann, S og Montgomery, C Carmichael, L Cordner, L Branniff, J Lynass, E O'Connor, F Smyth, C McGreevey, A Smyth, J O'Hara