Integrated College Dungannon lifted the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup for the first time in their history thanks to a deserved 2-1 win over holders St Columb’s College in today’s decider.
Attackers Liam Corr and Kenny Ximenes were both on target for ICD, who largely bossed the match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
The Corr-Ximenes combination earned ICD their place in this afternoon’s showpiece – in a 2-1 win over Ashfield Boys’ High in the last four – and they produced the goods again in the NISFA U18 competition.
The first half was a pretty even affair, although Mark Patton’s side edged it as they spread the play and tried to open up the St Columb’s defence down the channels.
On 11 minutes ICD defender Jamie Donnell did well to block an effort from James Campbell as St Columb’s threatened before ICD forward Ximenes tested St Columb’s keeper Joe McConnellogue with a low drive.
St Columb’s left back Ryan McLaughlin weaved his way past a couple of defenders as he sped towards goal, however his scooped shot was easily collected by Dungannon keeper Darren Beattie.
In the 24th minute Dungannon took the lead. Ethan Nethery played the ball forward to Corr and he cleverly swept the ball past McConnellogue from 25 yards.
St Columb’s almost hit back just three minutes later. Shae Feeney produced a fine curling shot which went inches wide of the upright.
Ximenes appeared to be upended inside the penalty area by St Columb’s defender Darragh McCloskey, however referee Frankie Shanks waved away the appeals for a penalty.
Down the other end Feeney curled a free-kick over the bar and on the stroke of half-time Donnell made a superb block to thwart St Columb’s dangerman Jack McFeely as he looked set to score.
In the 51st minute McCloskey tracked Dungannon striker Jadon Morgan as he raced towards goal and nicked the ball off his toe as he was about to pull the trigger. Dungannon midfielder Tommy Taggert headed inches wide from the resulting corner
McConnellogue clawed away a curling shot from Corr before Nethery dragged an effort wide of the post as ICD continued to push forward.
St Columb’s tried to get on the ball, however the Dungannon midfield and defence swarmed around them. Centre backs Ben Leek and Donnell, full backs Tommy Connolly and Jack McFarland plus defensive midfielder Taggert worked tirelessly to keep their opponents at bay.
Corr’s low drive was off target before ICD extended their lead in the 68th minute thanks to a superb goal.
Connolly played a lovely ball to Ximenes down the right flank and he cut inside and raced towards goal before slipping the ball past the advancing keeper from a tight angle into the bottom corner. It was a sweet finish.
Donnell headed just wide as Dungannon went in search of a third goal, while St Columb’s attacker McFeely scooped a shot over the top from an angle.
McFeely eventually got on the scoresheet with a neat finish in added time, however it was too little, too late for the Derry team in front of an estimated 1800 spectators.
Integrated College Dungannon: Darren Beattie, Tommy Connolly, Jack McFarland, Ben Leek, Jamie Donnell, Tommy Taggert, Kenny Ximenes, Lee McMenemy (captain), Jadon Morgan, Ethan Nethery, Liam Corr.
Substitutes: (used) Callum McWhirter, Alex Magee, Anijo Silva, Elijah Weathered, James McCann; (unused) Nathan Hunter, Andy Lobato, Stuart Harrison.
St Columb’s College: Joe McConnellogue, Conor Barr, Ryan McLaughlin, Peter Tracey, Darragh McCloskey, Riley Fitzpatrick, Shae Feeney, Joshua Callaghan, Jack McFeely, Sean Carlin (captain), James Campbell.
Substitutes: (used) Noah McHugh, Shay Healy; (unused) Dylan Duffy, Lee Duddy, Shea Gallagher, Adam Mason, Caomhan McMenamin.