Knock achieve Schools’ first in MacLarnon thriller

February 02, 2018

Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup quarter-final
OL&SP Knock 1-14 St Louis Ballymena 2-11 (After two periods of extra time)
Knock win 2-0 on frees
Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock have become the first team to win an Ulster Schools’ GAA match on frees, after this Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup quarter-final at the Dub ended level following two periods of extra time.
Defenders John Toner and Eoin Kelly wrote the south east Belfast school into the record books with two successful kicks from the 45 metres line, the only two from the nine taken that went over the crossbar.
At the end of normal time, Knock, the team that had come through a qualifier with Virginia Cavan to make the quarter-final, led by 1-8 to 0-7. Then in added time, St Louis sub Eoin McGrath got on the end of a move to fire home a goal and Aaron McNeilly lofted over the equaliser in a welter of excitement.
That led to extra time and St Louis took the initiative with points for McNeilly and Conor Stewart. However Knock came back to level during the second period with scores from Niall Grimley and Liam O’Keefe leading to a second bout of extra time.
Once more the Ballymena side took the initiative and Peter Cullen goaled with Eoin McGrath adding a point.
With tiredness setting in for both teams now, a four points’ lead looked a winner but, just as happened at the end of normal time, the team in arrears began to dig out scores.
Ciaran Sherry and free-taker Ryan Tweedie pulled back two points. Then Tom Dunsford made it a single point game before Liam O’Keefe brought the teams level and into kicking frees from 45m.
For long periods in ordinary time, the underdogs looked the better side, helped no doubt by Caolan Cunningham’s first half goals and the accuracy of Tweedie from frees, but also by dominance of the midfield pairing of Oran Boyle and Peter King.
Ryan McGarry had a huge game for St Louis, as did Aaron McNeilly bursting through for points during the key moments of the game.
However neither team could find a winner from play and it was left to two defenders to point Knock into the semi-finals
OL&SP Knock : S McCaffrey, J Morgan, E Kelly, P Doherty, L Toal, J Toner, C Cunningham 1-0, O Boyle, P King, L O’Keefe 0-4, M McAreavy, N Grimley 0-1, J Blaney 0-1, T Dunford 0-2, R Tweedie 0-5, 0-4 frees
Subs : C Sherry 0-1 for J Blaney, D Strong for N Grimley, C Webb for P Doherty.
St Louis : E Elliott, S Madden, R McGarry, A McGrath, C Scullion 0-1, A McNeilly 0-6, 0-4 frees, P Cullen 1-1, D Fagan, F O’Kane, A Crawford, R McLarnon, R Griffin, L McCann 0-1, C Stewart 0-1, K Burke
Subs : E McGrath 1-1 for L McCann, D Dobbin for R McGarry (bc), E Walsh for R Griffin