Omagh CBS 1-18
St Patrick’s Academy 1-12
By Niall Gartland
BACK-TO-BACK MacRory Cup winners for the first time in the history of the school: it’s some achievement and some legacy.
Omagh CBS showed the class of champions as they held their nerve to finish strongly against St Patrick’s Academy at the Athletic Grounds today, rubberstamping their position as the dominant force right now in Ulster School’s football at this lofty level.
If we could deploy just one word to sum up the Brother’s performance yesterday, it’s composure.
St Patrick’s Dungannon roared their way back into contention in the belly of the second-half and with ten minutes remaining, it was all square on the scoreboard and anything could have happened.
But the CBS never panicked and reassumed control of the contest when the game was in the melting pot as they surged to their sixth ever MacRory Cup title.
And while there were sparkling individual performances from full-back Brian Gallagher, captain Callum Daly, Ruairi McCullagh and Liam Og Mossey, every single lad played their part in another memorable day for the Kevlin Road school. Now the Hogan Cup beckons – is the two in-a-row in the pipeline? We’ll leave that for another day.
As for how it all panned out, Conor McCool opened the scoring much to the delight of the St Patrick’s Academy fans stationed behind the goals, but one of the features of the first-half was the Brothers’ ability to respond in kind, getting their first of the day through full-back Brian Gallagher who had ventured forward to great effect.
Omagh CBS were extremely disciplined at the back, but they coughed up their second score in large part due to the vision of Conall Sheehy, who spotted Davin McKeown loitering with intent on the opposition flank.
Rather than hoof it across, he played it gently across into space and McKeown did the needful.
St Pat’s are blessed with brawn in the middle third and found plenty of joy from Naoise Quinn’s kick-outs (not all blasted out down the central channel either), but they dawdled in the lead-up to Omagh’s second point of the afternoon, and Ruairi McCullagh was on hand to level matters with ten minutes gone.
So far, so even, but it wasn’t long before the defending champions had opened up a two-point gap.
Callum Daly forced a turnover which culminated in a sweetly-struck effort on the loop from Drumagh lad, Niall McCarney, while Charlie Donnelly clipped over a nice point on the run after characteristically composed build-up play from Nathan Farry.
St Pat’s weren’t quite so composed down the either end of the pitch, and should’ve bagged a goal when Sean Hughes’ effort at a point was gathered by rangy targetman, Finn Spence.
Spence had the goal at his mercy, but blasted high and wide of the posts in a considerable let-up for the Brothers.
There was a sense of deja vu a few minutes later when Sean Hughes had another effort that dropped short, but on this occasion, goalkeeper, Oisin Watson, was on-hand to clear the danger.
St Pat’s got their third point when Sean Hughes popped over from close-range after the CBS needlessly gave away a free, and really should have rattled the onion bag when Lorcan Hegarty was played in by their intelligent centre-half back, Matthew Quinn.
He drove it low and hard across the face of goal but it drifted wide.
It had been a nervy spell for the Brothers, but they were still ahead on the scoreboard, and they opened up a 0-5 to 0-3 lead when Charlie Donnelly got his second of the day with 19 minutes on the clock.
St Pat’s tagged on a free from Sean Hughes, but Ruairi McCullagh grew in prominence as the half wore on, and made no mistake from an advanced mark.
From the restart, they got another following purposeful play from Jack Law on the flank, before playing a neat one-two with McCullagh and splitting the posts.
The Dungannon school needed to start troubling the scoreboard, and they got two on the spin themselves from Davin McKeown and Sean Hughes, both beautifully taken efforts from distance.
The last five minutes of the half belonged to the Brothers.
Nathan Farry, brave and clever on the ball, was at the nucleus of a point converted by that man McCullagh.
The same two lads were key to their ninth and final point of the half; Farry threading the ball through the eye of a needle to McCullagh, who was proving a serious handful up front.
So, the defending champions led by 0-9 to 0-6 at the break, and they threatened to pull away when Liam Og Mossey and McCullagh compounded their advantage early in the second-half while Brian Gallagher and Callum Daly manned the decks at the back with a few pivotal plays.
St Pat’s got up and running again with a delectable effort from the wings from Davin McKeown; his third from play of the day, but otherwise they were struggling to find a way through the disciplined Omagh CBS defence.
Paudi Dillon fisted over another for Omagh CBS before St Pat’s sneaked in for the first goal of the day, Conor Holmes on-hand to fist the ball to the net to leave only two points between the teams with 40 minutes on the clock.
It wasn’t just a life-line – St Pat’s were right back in the contest and it was up to the Brothers to reassert themselves with a full twenty minutes of play remaining – but Conor Holmes meant business and he screwed over a point as the game ticked into the final quarter.
The Brothers needed leadership and they got it in spades from Brian Gallagher, who scored his second of the day to leave it 0-13 to 1-8 in their favour.
Characteristic of their respective routes to the final, this one was going right to the wire and St Pat’s kept in contention with Sean Hughes’ first free of the second-half with 49 minutes gone.
Then came the equaliser, Matthew Quinn, a Rolls Royce of a player, splitting the posts from 40 yards.
Liam Og Mossey nudged Omagh CBS back into the lead, showing good composure not to rush his shot, and then came the game’s defining moment as Charlie Donnelly’s effort at point dropped ever-so-slightly short, and somehow nestled into the back of the net. 1-14 to 1-10 with 52 minutes gone and it looked like the game was theirs.
Mossey was having a second-half stormer and clipped over a mark before Conall Sheedy found space to keep St Pat’s just about in the contest as half-time approached
Dungannon substitute James Mulgrew nabbed another but the CBS steeled themselves and finished the game with a real fluorish with the final three points of the game – scores from Loughmacrory colleagues, Ruairi McCullagh and Eoin Donaghy ,and yet another from Liam Og Mossey.
And that was virtually that as the Brothers clinched a 1-18 to 1-12 victory on a historic day for the school, and with the Hogan Cup competition coming down the tracks, there could be more to come.
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