COLÁISTE EOIN 1-10; MARIST ATHLONE 1-8
COLAISTE Eoin claimed their first provincial title since 1998 when narrowly overcoming Marist College Athlone by two points in their thrilling Leinster Colleges Senior 'A' Football final at Croke Park last Saturday.
The win was especially gratifying given the losses that the Booterstown gaelscoil endured in both the 2010 and 2012 provincial finals with manager Pádraig Mac Donncha thrilled to have finally gotten his side over the line after those previous heartaches.
"It is absolutely brilliant to finally win. It was very tight at the end and there were times when I thought that Marist were getting the upper hand on us.
"In fairness, in the last 10 minutes, the lads dug in and they managed to come out with the win and their determination and desire to win was thankfully enough to get the job done," said Mac Donncha.
The win was secured thanks to a dominant second-half performance in which the Stillorgan Road outfit generally controlled matters and Conn Ó Ceallacháin's nine points over the hour proved pivotal in this low-scoring clash.
"At half-time, we asked the lads to increase their intensity and they went up another level and worked extremely hard in controlling possession and being more reactive.
"We had won a lot of our earlier games by large enough margins and this was the first time that things looked especially tight and the lads had to get used to the close tussles against what was a fine Marist team," he said.
Marist played the more accomplished football in that opening period as Coláiste Eoin's attack failed to ignite and Charlie McMickan's well-taken goal in the 14th minute left the gaelscoil facing a mini-crisis.
Thankfully, from their perspective, Ó Ceallacháin stepped up to the plate when landing two sublime scores from play, ensuring his side trailed by a manageable 1-5 to 0-5 margin at the break.
Another cracking score from the Dublin minor immediately after the restart increased Coláiste Eoin's confidence and they levelled matters in the 32nd minute when Colm Ó Néill fired home from close range after Rian Mac Giolla Bríde's dangerous delivery.
It proved nip and tuck for the remainder of the contest but with the Coláiste Eoin full-back line of Enda Ó Lorcáin, Oisín Ó Dúill and substitute Dara Ó Colpa in inspired form, late scores by Fionn Ó Riain Broin and Ó Ceallacháin sealed a semi-final berth.
"We're really looking forward to the semi-final now and we're going to work hard between now and the 29th of March to get our preparations right for that," he concluded.
Scorers – Coláiste Eoin: C Ó Ceallacháin 0-9 (4f), C Ó Néill 1-0, F Ó Riain Broin 0-1. Marist College: C McMickan 1-2, N Neary 0-3, C Marlow 0-2 ('45's), M Monaghan 0-1.
COLÁISTE EOIN: S Ó Dúbhláin; C Ó Riain Broin, O Ó Dúill, E Ó Lorcáin; D Ó Treasaigh, E Ó Naoire, B Mac Cormaic; S Ó Dúlaing, C Ó Cathasaigh; F Ó Riain Broin, C Ó Seanáin, R Mac Giolla Bríde; C Ó Néill, C Ó Ceallacháin, L Ó Giolláin. Subs: D Ó Colpa for Ó Treasaigh (17), C Mac Gearailt for Ó Giolláin (55).
MARIST COLLEGE: S Mannion; A Daly, M Daly, F Farrell; M Nolan, M Curley, L Carty; S Omukoro, G Delaney; T Byrne, N Neary, M Monaghan; B Stack, C Marlow, C McMickan. Subs: E Cunnane for Nolan (45), C Gleeson for Byrne (49), A Garvey for Delaney (56).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)