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Call for All-Ireland return as Donegal nail their hat-trick

By Declan Bogue

Donegal 2-9 Cavan 2-7: Shortly after clinching their third inter-county Ulster Vocational Schools Championship in a row, Donegal manager Joe McKelvey lamented the fact that his charges are denied the opportunity of going on to win an All-Ireland title.

Croke Park authorities have placed what they term as a two-year moratorium on the All-Ireland series taking place, a move that has caused considerable rancour among those who stage the competition, which has produced sterling talents such as that of recent All-Ireland winners Patrick McBrearty and Neil Gallagher (pictured below) of Donegal.

“It is disappointing that it doesn't go on,” said McKelvey, after Donegal survived a late goal from Cavan's Oisin Caralon and a late flurry of attacks to close out the final, played at Brewster Park, Enniskillen.

“We know that other counties have big colleges and teams but all the schools in Donegal the most they have is about 300 students. We can't compete at that level.”

He continued, “Geographically, they want us to join together but we can't do that either, the money is not in the country number one, and number two the schools are too far apart to make that work. And this is the only way these lads get to represent their county, to play along elite footballers.”

Pointing out that of the current All-Ireland champions team only three players were not products of this level of football, McKelvey emphasised, “It's everything to Donegal.

“Since I have been involved in managing the Vocational Schools teams we have played a lot of challenge games against MacRory Cup teams.

“We would just about compete with them, beat some of them, and lose to others. But those managers when I get talking to them, they are training five or six times a week.

“Our thing is definitely more leisurely, we train twice a week and even then only do that maybe four weeks before our first game.”

He added: “I would hope that the competition will continue on.

“There are a lot of good footballers out there and the players out there could be the players that might play until they are 40, they could be the treasurers and the secretaries of your clubs, they may be the more rounded GAA individual than just the senior county footballer.”

An early scoring spurt, capped with a fine goal finished by Cian OMaolagain, along with another 1-3 on the bounce in the second half was enough to see the Ulster Bank Inter County Cup head back to the Hills.

Cavan: R McCabe; K McEnroe, R Craddock, D Donegan; J Carney 0-1, S McManus, C Smith (B O'Connell, 41m); F Reilly 0-1, L Buchanan; O Carolan 1-1, T Cooney 0-1 (D O'Brien, 58m), K McSherry 1-2, 2f; N Farrell, C Bradley, J Doyle 0-1 C Reilly, 30m (A McIntyre, 49m)

Donegal: L Kelly; O Scally, S McLaughlin, J Blaney (A Dalton, 38m); L O'Brien (P Blake, 45m), C McCormack, J Scally; P Gillespie 0-1, C McGettigan 0-3, 2f; C O'Maolagain 1-0, W Gillespie 1-2, 1f, C Harkin; L Conor 0-1, D O'Connor 0-1, D McCarron 0-1

Referee: S McNamee (Tyrone)

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