St Paul’s proudly battle back but fall short
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
ST PAUL'S HIGH SCHOOL BESSBROOK 0-10 ST PATRICK'S COLLEGE, MAGHERA 2-5.
ST PAUL'S High School suffered heartache at the final hurdle in their bid to win the MacRory Cup in what has been their first season playing in the competition.
The old adage that goals win games proved to be correct as St Pat's of Maghera hit the net twice in the first half to leave St Paul's playing catch-up.
Lesser sides would have buckled after suffering such a set-back but the fact that there was still everything to play for in the dying seconds gives some indication of the mettle of the current St Paul's crop.
Still, two first-half goals did leave the Bessbrook school with a second-half uphill struggle. Conor Boyle successfully had his suspension following his red card in the semi-final victory over St Macartan's overturned, but he struggled to maintain Stephen O'Hara in the St Pat's full-forward line.
The towering forward looked more comfortable under the high ball and it was a tactic that the Derry side deployed to great effect during the first half.
O'Hara scored the game's first point, an excellent long-ranger but St Paul's steadied the ship with two well taken points, first from Aaron McKay and secondly from his midfield partner Blaine Malone.
That slender lead proved to be very precarious and on 12 minutes St Pat's took the lead with a fortuitous goal. Conor Carville attempted to catch a long ball in the square that had been played forward by Peter Cassidy but Carville failed to control the ball. Instead, it deflected luckily off his arm, wrong-footing Seán McDonnell in the St Paul's goal allowing the ball to it roll over the line.
St Paul's responded strongly though. Ciaron O'Hanlon, who has been so influential throughout the MacRory Cup campaign for St Paul's picked out McKay with a lovely cross-field pass and the midfielder duly tapped over to reduce the arrears to one point.
The comeback proved to be shortlived though as St Pat's nabbed another goal on a quick break. It was route one football but it was effective. A long ball from Danny Tallon was fielded excellently by O'Hara, who shrugged off Conor Boyle and blasted past McDonnell for Maghera's second goal.
St Pat's continued to look dangerous with long balls but neither side were able to force any further scores in the remaining minutes of the first half. It meant that St Paul's trailed their opponents on a score-line of 2-1 to 0-3 at the break.
St Paul's got the second half off to a perfect start as Ciaron O'Hanlon pointed a free on 32 minutes. But it was far from easy going for both teams. Conditions were trying and it made it impossible to play fast, fluid football.
St Pat's scored next as man-of-the-match Peter Cassidy pointed with poise but St Paul's did not lie down. Two free conversions from the increasingly influential O'Hanlon kept St Paul's in touch.
Substitutions were made but none had the desired goal-scoring impact for St Paul's. The Maghera defence was resolute and goal-scoring opportunities were few and far between.
St Pat's played a patient game and Gerald Bradley converted a free after O'Hara won a soft free close to goal. Still, St Paul's refused to relent. O'Hanlon converted another free but St Pat's responded with a score of their own through substitute Conor Convery.
The one goal-chance St Paul's were able to fashion in the second half was a result of quick thinking on the part off Connor Nugent who picked out Daniel Nugent in space. Nugent's strike was on target but an incredible save by Ciaran McCloy in the Maghera goal denied St Paul's the goal they probably deserved.
The missed opportunity only spurred St Paul's on in the latter stages and when Eoghan Burns pointed on 25 minutes only three points separated the sides as St Pat's led 2-5 to 0-8.
O'Hanlon moved into the full-forward line and St Paul's instantly carried more menace. Substitute Caolan McCullough tapped over on 27 minutes and O'Hanlon converted a free on 60 minutes.
The clock beat St Paul's though as St Pat's were able to fend off wave after wave of Bessbrook attacks in injury time.
St Paul's may have lost their first MacRory Cup final but the spirit and determination on display from the Bessbrook team would indicate that they will be back at this stage in future and they will have a chance to avenge this galling defeat.
ST PAUL'S: Seán MCDonnell, Jamie Cosgrove, Conor Boyle, Kyle Mallon, Peter Campell, Daniel Nugent, Gregory, McCabe, Aaron McKay (0-2), Blaine Malone (0-1), Connaire Mackin, Eoghan Burns (0-1), Fionnán Burns, Ciaron O'Hanlon (0-5, 5f), Connor Nugent, Caolan McConville (Subs) Cormac Toner for Caolan Toner (25 mins), Caolan McCullough (0-1) for Kyle Mallon (38), Miceál McNamee for Fionnán Burns (43), Jarlath Óg Burns for Cormac Toner (25)
ST PAT'S: CiaranMcCloy, Conor Glass, Declan Hughes, Oisín Hegarty, Cathal Mulholland, Conor Carville (1-0), Conor Gallagher, James Kearney, Peter Cassidy (0-1), Cormac O'Doherty, Gerald Bradley (0-2, 2f), Dominic McFaul, Gerald Bradley, Dominic McFaul, Pádraig Cassidy, Stephen O'Hara (1-1), Danny Tallon (Subs) Peter Hagan for Pádraig Cassidy (27 mins), Conor Convery (0-1) for Dominic McFaul (35), Paul McAtamney for Peter Cassidy (55)
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