Cathair Dhoire topped group A on Thursday with their win over St Malachy's Castlewellan and Castleblayney's victory against Inis Eoghain, both played at Cookstown's Mid Ulster Sports Arena.

The Derry men were 3-9 to 1-8 winners over a Castlewellan team who will have been frustrated with their finishing,

On five occasions in the first-half, while playing against a stiff wind, they cut through Cathair Dhoire with precision and pace creating clear cut goal chances.

The City schools used the wind advantage in the first-half to press on every Castlewellan play. Fergal Mortimer and Cahir McMonagle opened the scoring before the Down school levelled matters.

Jude Óg Moore, McMonagle and a Mortimer free ensured a strong first quarter for the Derry lads. Castewellan reduced the deficit to one with two more scores of their own.

During this period both teams were guilty of poor finishing, Cathair Dhoire dropped six shots short into the goalkeeper's hands while Castlewellan wasted five goal chances having executed precision hand passing moves through the Dhoire defence.

Ben McCarron eventually found some space and his resulting solo run resulted in an excellent goal with a low driven effort into the corner of the net. The resulting kickout was turned over by the Derry lads and Cahir McMonagle slipped a neat finish under the Castlewellan net-minder, to put them 2-8 to 0-4 ahead.

With conditions deteriorating at half -time the Cathair Dhoire team faced 30 minutes of driving wind and rain.

Although Tiernan O’ Kane opened the scoring, it was the Down school who would tag the next four scores of the half.

With 10 minutes remaining, the City schools were awarded a penalty for a football block on Shane McElhinney's shot to be blocked by a Castewellan foot.

McMonagle slotted home the penalty to ensure some daylight between the schools heading into the final 10 minutes.

Castlewellan’s slick hand passing style continued to pose problems with Cathair Dhoire required to make last ditch tackles in the final phase of the Down schools attacks, one such attack resulted in a clear push inside the square, resulting in a penalty that was expertly tucked into the corner by the Castlewellan school.  This would be the final score of the game.

Cathair Dhoire now await the winners of St Puis X and Our Lady & St Patrick’s Knock, in the quarter finals. It will be played on or before Saturday, February 2.

MATCH STATS:

Cathair Dhoire: Matthew Stephenson, Peter O’Flaherty, Naoise O’ Mianáin, Michael Lynch, Jude Mullan, Shane McElhinney, James Lynch, Fergal Mortimer (0-2, 1f), Cormac Mooney (0-1), Shea Browne, Ben McCarron (1-0), Tiernan O’Kane (0-1), Cahir McMonagle (2-3), Jude Óg Moore (0-2), Caoimhin O’Connor.
Subs: Conor Doherty for T O’Kane, Ryan Brown for C O’Connor, Conaire Molloy for C Mooney, Killian Higgins, Conall Murphy, Sean Straw, Aiden Duddy, Ben O’Kane, Jack McLaughlin, Adam Harlan.

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