Corr! Kenny X Factor helps Integrated College Dungannon win a first NI U18 Schools Cup

The Integrated College Dungannon players celebrate their NI Schools' FA U18 Cup Final win over St Columb's College, Derry.
The Integrated College Dungannon players celebrate their NI Schools' FA U18 Cup Final win over St Columb's College, Derry.

Danske Bank NI Schools FA Cup Final: Integrated College, Dungannon 2-1 St Columb’s College, Derry

THREE great goals but only one clear winner as Integrated College, Dungannon deservedly saw off holders St Columb’s College, Derry 2-1 to seal their first ever triumph in the NI Schools U18 Cup Final.

The Tyrone team were much the better side and had the Cup effectively in their hands with more than 10 minutes left to play after Kenny Ximenes squeezed in a superb second goal to add to an opportunist opener in the first half from fellow wideman Liam Corr.

St Columb’s centre-forward Jack McFeely dribbled through the previously impregnable Dungannon defence to slot in a consolation goal in the fourth minute of added time, but ICD were much the better team.

Coaisland lad Corr was delighted he and his team-mates had ensured their place in the history books, saying: “Ah, definitely; it’s something that will live with us whenever we’re older, whenever we’re watching games that are being played on TV here, we can say we’ve played here and we won a cup here.

Liam Corr of Integrated College Dungannon

“A lot of people won’t get this opportunity, so it’s big, so it is, especially for the school. The school is full of people who love football, so it kinda puts them more on the map.”

The final debutants showed absolutely no early nerves, with classy centre half Ben Leek delivering a superb raking cross-field pass forward, but the move broke down.

St Columb’s had the first effort of note, though, when Shae Feeney was released on the right. He cut inside cleverly and supplied James Campbell, but his shot was well blocked by Dungannon defender Jamie Donnell.

Dungannon responded immediately, with their centre-forward Jadon Morgan leading the line well, and when he was challenged Corr seized on the loose ball, then cut it back, but Ethan Nethery’s effort struck Conor Barr.

On a chilly, changeable day, snow fell for a short spell, but when the sun briefly emerged, Dungannon definitely looked the brighter side, with Ximenes firing in a low drive, before Corr almost sent Morgan clear but he could not bring the ball under control and Darragh McCloskey swept up.

Yet there was no stopping Corr’s shot minutes later. Midfielder Ethan Nethery’s smart pass sprang him through the Derry offside trap, but Corr spotted Joe McConnellogue well out of his goal and bent a brilliant finish past him into the net.

Liam Corr (left) of Integrated College Dungannon takes on St Columb's Derry right-back Conor Barr.
Liam Corr (left) of Integrated College Dungannon takes on St Columb's Derry right-back Conor Barr.

Feeney shot narrowly wide for St Columb’s, then Ximenes had a strong penalty appeal rejected after going down under a challenge from McCloskey.

When Dungannon keeper Darren Beattie caught the ball but stepped just outside his penalty area, Derry had a fine free kick opportunity at the angle – but Feeney couldn’t keep his shot down.

The determined Donnell made a block again, from St Columb’s number nine McFeely, to preserve Dungannon’s lead, and they dominated the second period.

Morgan was denied by a sliding block from McCloskey, then Tommy Taggart flashed a header across the face of goal, the opening served up on a plate by Corr’s corner.

Dungannon continued to look likelier to get a crucial second goal, but could not quite secure it. Corr played a short corner routine and then curled a sweet shot which McConnellogue leapt to push around his left-hand upright.

Then Nethery’s neat flick found Ximenes in the box, but when he was stymied Nethery raced in – only to poke his low shot agonisingly wide.

Kenny Ximenes, scorer of ICD's second goal

In a break in play the St Columb’s manager engaged in some intense coaching chat with half his team – but when the game re-started Ximenes showed his ‘X Factor’, scoring the sort of goal that can hardly be coached.

Right-back Tommy Connollly played a significant part, chipping a pass over the Columb’s left-back, but it was all ‘Kenny X’ after that. He sped in along the byline and then fizzed a shot inside the far post from a narrow angle.

A terrific tackle from Connolly stopped McFeely from scoring, but the Derry side’s attacking star did grab a lovely goal in added time, dribbling past several opponents before slotting in.

Yet Dungannon had done more than enough to win, and their delighted celebrations at the final whistle were fully deserved.

Integrated College, Dungannon: D Beattie; T Connolly, J McFarland, B Leek, J Donnell, T Taggart, K Ximenes, L McMenemy, J Morgan, E Nethery, L Corr. Substitutes: C McWhirter for McFarland (69); A Magee for Leek (69); A Silva for Corr (74); E Weathered for McMenemy (75); J McCann for Connolly (75).

St Columb’s College, Derry: J McConnellogue; C Barr, R McLaughlin, P Tracey, D McCloskey, R Fitzpatrick, S Feeney, J Callaghan, J McFeely, S Carlin, J Campbell. Substitutes: N McHugh for Campbell (54); S Healy for Feeney (72);

Referee: Frankie Shanks.