Small makes a big difference for St Mary’s in MacRory replay

March 01, 2017

Danske Bank MacRory Cupsemi-final

From Kevin Kelly in Athletic Grounds, Armagh

St Mary’s Magherafelt 1-11 St Paul’s Bessbrook 0-13

Full-forward Kevin Small was the toast of St Mary’s Magherafelt at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh last night as he landed a 40 metre free with the last kick of the game to send his side into the Danske Bank MacRory Cup final.

This replay was another gripping encounter with St Paul’s looking the likely winners when holding a four point lead 12 minutes into the second half. A well taken Liam Quinn goal on the three quarter mark though changed everything as the winners grew in stature.

They hit the front but Liam Kerr looked to have forced extra time with a free deep into injury time. However there was to be one last attack and when Conall Devlin won the free up stepped Small to split the posts for the Derry school.

It was St Paul’s Bessbrook who led by the minimum margin at the break but St Mary’s were probably the happier of the two sides as they didn’t have as much possession.

Small opened the scoring with a terrific point in the second minute but St Paul’s came straight down the field for Richard Keenan to land a superb equaliser with the outside of his boot.

Keenan was the stand-out player in the opening quarter and another brilliant brace from distance coupled with one from wing back Conor Clarke eased St Paul’s 0-4 to 0-1 in front.

Daniel Bradley then converted his first free of the night for the Magherafelt lads. But Bessbrook quickly replied with a quality score from centre half forward Kerr.

Bradley knocked over another free. But Bessbrook were always able to respond as Kerr took a bit hit and went to ground but quickly got up again to split the posts.

St Pauls’s were the better side at this stage but a two points lead was scant reward for the amount of possession that they enjoyed. Bradley and Kerr exchanged points from frees before Bradley landed an outstanding point from play from distance.

St Mary’s though had the final say of the opening period with a fine effort from Cormac Murphy to only trail 0-7 to 0-6 at the short whistle.

Shea Loye got his first score of the game to open the second half scoring and leave two between them but defender Devlin then replied with the score of the game for Magherafelt.

Declan Cassidy was then denied a goal by a superb save from Bessbrook keeper Ryan Daly with Dean Hanrahan and Keenan kicking points for the Armagh school either side of that.

Then came Quinn’s goal as he got on the end of a brilliant pass from Adam Connolly to finish to the net in style. Bessbrook were defending valiantly with full back Declan Loye making a couple of outstanding blocks.

Cormac Murphy levelled matters before a Bradley free edged Magherafelt in front. Murphy had the ball in the net three minutes from time but it was ruled out for a square ball infringement before Loye levelled matters from another placed ball.

Magherafelt substitute Tiernan McAteer put his side in front before Kerr looked to have forced extra time.

But there was to be one last twist with Small sending his side through to a St Patrick’s Day decider with St Colman’s, Newry.

St Mary’s Magherafelt: O Lynch, C Devlin (0-1), S Kelly, M Loughran, D Cassidy, C McCluskey, E Kelly, K McCann, T Donaghy, A Connolly, L Quinn (1-0), S McErlain, D Bradley (0-5, 4f), K Small (0-2, 1f), C Murphy (0-2).

Subs: T McAteer (0-1) for Kelly, M Rodgers for McCann

St Paul’s Bessbrook: R Daly, J Bennett, D Loye, C Magennis, D Hanrahan (0-1), E McCabe, C Clarke (0-1), Z Burnickas, R McGuinness, R Keenan (0-4), L Kerr (0-4, 2f), C Cosgrove, N Magennis, S Loye (0-3, 3f), R Hughes.

Subs: A Davidson for C Magennis (black card)

Referee: N McKenna, Monaghan