Coláiste Iognáid 13-17 Garbally College
A try in the dying minutes from Garbally College winger Niall Collins clinched the Top Oil Connacht Schools Junior Cup title for his school after a dramatic final at the Sportsground.
It was an open, entertaining clash with both sides more than willing to run the ball from anywhere on the pitch.
Playing against the strong wind, a fired-up Garbally College side made a flying start. Coláiste Iognáid were pinned in their own half with Garbally tackling superbly in midfield and after a Coláiste Iognáid clearance kick was blocked down, the ball was hacked beyond the in-goal area by the retreating defence for a five-yard scrum.
The Garbally set-piece was solid and no.8 Patrick Grehan picked and barged his way over for the opening try with Cian Tracey off target with the conversion.
Coláiste Iognáid responded well to that setback and some enterprising attacking play ended with a try for scrum-half Luke Kelly after Garbally’s Grehan had made an outstanding tap-tackle. Darragh Hanrahan added the extras and they led 7-5.
It was only the beginning of a dominant period for the city school and they saw two tries correctly ruled out by referee Stephen Gregory later in the half – for a double-movement and accidental offside – as Garbally clung on for dear life.
Hanrahan did add a penalty in the final minute of the opening half but it was scant consolation for their dominance as they led 10-5 at the break.
As in the opening half, Garbally sprung out of the traps after the interval and a sublime piece of skill from Tracey saw the out-half drift outside the Iognáid midfield and his lofted pass released Padraig Flanagan to race clear and dive for the left corner but play was called back for a forward pass.
The pressure told with 20 minutes to go as Garbally flanker John Claffey ghosted through a gap to go in under the posts after Garbally went through the phases in the Iognáid 22 with Tracey’s conversion giving Garbally a 12-10 lead.
Once again, Iognáid regrouped and regained the upper hand when Garbally’s Oisin McCormack was sin-binned for coming in the side and Hanrahan had the nerve to slot the tricky penalty to move his school back in front.
It was advantage Garbally in the closing minutes as they pushed for the winning score and a perfectly judged kick from impressive centre Shane Jennings was touched down by speedy winger Collins to clinch a dramatic victory for Garbally.
Garbally College: Tom Fitzpatrick; Padraig Flanagan, Shane Jennings, James Carry, Niall Collins; Cian Tracey (Conor Goode, 51), Matthew Devine (Cormac Finn, 41); Seamus Egan (Cian Silke, 41), Odhran Dooley (C), Jamie Curley; Mark Mitchell, Paraic Galvin; John Claffey, Oisin McCormack, Patrick Grehan.
Replacements: Matthew Kelly, Kyle Blackweir, Ben Daly, Jason Cunningham, Tony Finn.
Coláiste Iognáid: McDara Ó Gríofa; Luke Hurson, Ben Kelly, Darragh Hanrahan, Harry Devlin; Jack Power, Luke Kelly; Lloyd Solan, Tomás Gilanders, Gary Lally; Niall Hanahoe, Liam Smyth; Oliver Kelly, Diarmuid McCormack (C), George Hill.
Replacements: Callum O’Toole, Shane Devlin, Scott Canavan, Oisín Quinlan, Sean Conroy, Cian Murray, Harry Comer, Ronan Burke, Colm Finnerty, Cian Roche.