The Baile Mhic Íre side qualified for the Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan (All-Ireland Colleges SCFC) final on Saturday with a two-point win over Ballinamore CS of Leitrim.
Having formerly competed in the now-defunct vocational schools competition, it is Coláiste Ghobnatán’s first year to play in the All-Ireland Colleges series.
Last year, a Cork Vocational semi-final against Kinsale CS was abandoned when a Ghobnatán player, 16-year-old Shane Murphy, collapsed and died, but O’Sullivan feels that he is there in spirit.
“The Munster C trophy was named after Shane this year, so that was a huge motivation for us to win it,” he said. “He’s like a 16th man this year, I believe that he’s with the lads all the time. It has been an amazing achievement for a school of just 200 or so pupils — and that’s boys and girls — to get this far and we’re hoping that we can just go a step further. It’s great for the school and the locality as a whole.”
O’Sullivan formerly taught at Coláiste Íosagáin, which was subsumed into Coláiste Ghobnatán in the 1980s. An All-Ireland Vocational A title was won in 1989 by a team featuring former Cork player and current selector Ciarán O’Sullivan.
“Against Ballinamore, we were up against a team which had 11 county minors, nine from Leitrim and two from Cavan,” he said. “It didn’t seem to matter to our boys though, there’s a great spirit within the team. Apart from Dan O’Donoghue and Aaron O’Sullivan, who are from Killarney, the panel is split 50-50 between players from Cill na Martra and Naomh Abán.
“When they play against each other for their clubs, there’s a huge intensity but also great respect and that transfers itself to the school team. The two clubs deserve great credit for the underage structures they have put in place.”
Late points on Saturday from Conchúr Ó Murchú and Dermot Ó Ceallaigh secured a 1-7 to 0-8 win against Ballinamore and Coláiste Ghobnatán now face Louth’s Ardee Community School in the final on April 5.