This was title number 45 for Garbally College and the win ensured they didn’t fall at the final hurdle for a third successive year. Summerhill were competing in the final for the first time after a tremendous campaign that saw them pip holders Sligo Grammar to reach the decider.
Summerhill started brilliantly with an early try from Ciarán Cassidy but Garbally responded with a try of their own from Michael O’Neill later in the half to help them to a 13-10 half time lead.Both captains, Jack Keegan for Summerhill and Simon Keller for Garbally, kicked superbly throughout but Keller’s five kicks from five seemed to have Garbally on the verge of victory with five minutes remaining as they held a 19-13 lead.
However, a gripping finale was still in store for the big Sportsground crowd. Irish schools international number 8 Cillian Gallagher scored Summerhill’s second try with four minutes remaining and although Keegan barely missed the conversion there was still time for a frantic finish with, Alexander Selby’s length of the field break almost leading to the winning try, only for Garbally left winger Noel Cotton to save the day with a stunning covering tackle.
Earlier in the day, CBS Roscommon made history by becoming the first side from the county to win a major schools cup in the province when they proved too powerful for Coláiste Iognáid, winning 36-0 in the Top Oil Connacht Schools Junior Cup. A brace of tries each for Melvin Conteh and Jason Hoare and tries from Rian Biesty and James Brandon helped them to the win, Shane Purcell kicking three conversions.
Michael O’Neill 1 try, Simon Keller 4 pens, 1 con.
Ciaran Cassidy and Cillian Gallagher 1 try each; Jack Keegan 2 pens and 1 con.
Ian Fletcher; Conor Payne, Peter Flannery Simon Keller Noel Cotton; Donacadh Reilly, Frank Hopkins; Niall Higgins, Rafik Khan, Conor Kenny; Daniel Dent, Andrew Foulger; Conor Harewood, Michael O’Neill, Dylan Connolly. Replacement: Ryan Hines for Foulger 49 mins; Oisin Lyons for D Connolly 54 mins.
Alexander Selby; Shane Flanagan, Ross Hickey, Darragh Cummins, Adrian Cummins; Jack Keegan, Neil Murray; Hadi Mousa, Diarmuid Hough, Mark Keegan; Ciaran Cassidy, Luke Morrision, Shane O’Hehir, Liam McElhiney, Cillian Gallagher. Replacement: Yousef Shalabi for Hough 35 mins.