Coláiste Eoin come good in Leinster Colleges football final
Stillorgan gaelscoil account for Marist College for first Leinster title since 1998
The Colaiste Eoin team celebrate victory over Marist College at the end of the Leinster Colleges Senior Football Championship Final, Croke Park, at the weekend. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Coláiste Eoin produced an impressive second-half display when narrowly accounting for Marist College by two points in their absorbing final at Croke Park on Saturday evening.
The Stillorgan gaelscoil struggled in the opening-half but they played with a greater degree of confidence after the break to eventually register their first provincial title since 1998.
Marist seized control of affairs from the opening whistle and they deservedly took the lead within two minutes as Niall Neary pointed from distance following Luke Carty’s run.
Although Conn Ó Ceallacháin responded with a brace of frees for Coláiste Eoin, it was evident from the early stages that the Athlone school enjoyed a marked advantage at midfield with Conor Marlow levelling matters through a 45 in the eighth minute.
The procession towards the Coláiste Eoin goal continued with Charlie McMickan restoring Marist’s lead with a well-taken score two minutes later before the corner-forward pounced for the game’s opening goal three minutes later.
The move originated down Marist’s left-hand side and when McMickan received the ball from Terry Byrne, he cut inside before driving a precise finish low into the left hand corner of Seán Ó Dubhláin’s goal.
After Marlow landed another 45 soon after, Coláiste Eoin were in danger of leaving themselves with an insurmountable deficit but Ó Ceallacháin fired over their first point from play in the 18th minute to help regain their equilibrium.
Despite McMickan replying instantly for Marist, Coláiste Eoin finished the half in relative strength with Ó Ceallacháin adding two further scores to ensure his side trailed by just 1-5 to 0-5 by the interval.
The Dublin minor continued in a similar vein, firing a sublime point off his left boot within 30 seconds of the restart but Marist responded immediately with an excellent effort by the impressive Neary.
However, the game changed irrevocably in Coláiste Eoin’s favour from the resultant kick-out as Rian Mac Giolla Bríde’s lengthy delivery was gathered by Colm Ó Néill who fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of Shane Mannion’s net from six metres out.
Marist responded admirably to this setback and regained their lead through a score from Michael Monaghan but the impetus was firmly in Coláiste Eoin’s favour and they levelled again through an Ó Ceallacháin free.
A previously porous Coláiste Eoin defence began to excel as the contest evolved with Enda Ó Lorcáin and substitute Dara Ó Colpa in inspired form and a sublime Ó Ceallacháin point in the 43rd minute reflected the Dublin side’s supremacy.
A solo score by Fionn Ó Riain Broin five minutes later doubled his side’s lead but Neary was proving a handful at this stage and he slotted over his third point from play to ensure a grandstand finish.
Marist spurned a couple of golden opportunities as the clock ran down and their fate was sealed with a minute remaining as Ó Ceallacháin notched his ninth point of the evening to confirm Coláiste Eoin’s progression to the All-Ireland semi-final.