On Wednesday 24th January the Dominican College U-16 Gaelic team contested the JJ O’Reilly Cup U16 Ulster Colleges semi-final.
Their opposition at Owenbeg were St Patrick’s Ballymena.
The Dominican squad had a convincing 8-8 to 2-3 victory, a result that ensured the school would compete in its first ever Ulster final. Dominican will play the winners of St Colman’s Ballynahinch and St John’s Dromore in what is sure to be a thrilling final.
Late goals in each half proved decisive as Dominican overcame St Patrick’s in a tighter game than the scoreline may suggest. Playing with a strong wind at their back Dominican started strong, dominating possession but unable to turn that possession into scores.
A Lorcan McMullan point and goal all they had to show with 10 minutes gone. Alan Thompson and McMullan twice added points before a Lewis Hawthorne goal moved the score to 2-4 to 0-1. In the last few minutes of the half Jake Wallace and Adam Kosinski added two goals to leave Dominican 4-4 to 0-1 ahead at the break.
St Patrick’s started second half very strong and scored 1-1 in quick succession. Dominican found themselves under severe pressure and struggling to work the ball out. Jack Lucas came out to play as a third midfielder and he dominated kick outs for the remainder of the half.
A succession of points from Lorcan McMullan, two frees, Alan Thompson from play eased the pressure. A Lorcan McMullan goal after a great solo run was a real blow for St Patricks. McMullan, Thompson and Lucas dominated midfield, their hard running opened up gaps for Kacper Sobera to score two goals in a minute. Malachi Hendry capped his first appearance for the team with a goal. A late St Patricks goal was only a consolation.
Speaking afterwards Mr Richard Carey, the Dominican coach said: “It is a pleasure to see such a wonderful group of boys playing together at this level within our school. We have been building toward this success in the school over a period of years.
“Our squad is made up of mixture of soccer and rugby players. The majority of the team are proud members of Eoghan Rua, our local team and two boys play in Glenullin. Our U-14 team, coached by Mr Hynds, were narrowly beaten in last week’s Ulster Schools quarter final by St Columbanus’ College; despite this defeat nine of these boys will be available for the same U-14 team next year. This illustrates our current levels of strength and depth in GAA in the school.
“Our U-16 squad topped our group beating Sperrin, Oakgrove and St Joseph’s in the process. We went on to defeat Blessed Trinity in the quarter finals to secure a semi -final place. As a small school we are more used to playing other vocational schools but all schools now compete under Ulster Colleges.
“It is a superb achievement for our school to compete at this high level; it’s the first time we have done so in the history of our school but, judging by the pool of talent within the school, I hope it will not be the only time we do so.
“It has been great for us to get more competitive games at the right level and a huge boost to qualify for Ulster final. Our whole school is tremendously proud of our U-16 team and hope they can no go on to win their final.”