St Colman’s take the Paul McGirr Cup north

March 31, 2019

Masita All-Ireland Paul McGirr Cup final

St Colman’s Newry 3-6 St Mary’s Knockbeg 0-14

From Séamas McAleenan in Kinnegad

GOALS have played a major part in St Colman’s getting as far as Saturday’s Masita All-Ireland Paul McGirr Cup final in Kinnegad. Early net-bulgers put them in charge of the Danske Bank Rannafast Cup final back in November and a late one in the second period of extra-time against St Gerald’s Castlebar edged them through the semi-final.

But on Saturday first half strikes from Oran McCafferty and a penalty from Adam Crimmins were badly needed to keep them in with a chance of winning this final after St Mary’s Knockbeg dominated the opening period.

Then at the three-quarter stage a third goal, a brilliant solo goal from Padraig Clancy, put them in charge of the game giving them enough breathing space to fend off a hungry Knockbeg who finished strongly and had the Ulster side hanging on for the final whistle.

Knockbeg had the wind behind them at the start and began well with early points from Fionn Bergin, Oisin Hooney and Ciaran Burke before St Colman’s eventually got off the mark with a free from Adam Crimmins.

St Colman’s were under pressure in that opening period and really needed the goal from Oran McCafferty at the mid-point of the half. However Knockbeg responded well with Bergin, Hooney and Colin Dunne pointing and they were 0-8 to 1-1 ahead when Tony Magee was brought down in the area and Adam Crimmons fired home from the penalty spot.

Oisin Byrne hit back with a free and Knockbeg took a 0-9 to 2-1 lead into the break. However the dangerous Oisin Hooney picked up a second yellow card just before the short whistle and ultimately this proved to be the turning point in a keenly contested game where St Colman’s had to dig really deep to become the first school from Ulster to collect the Masita Paul McGirr Cup.

Newry had the breeze for the second hald and an extra man and they quickly levelled the game with points from Crimmins and Dan McCarthy, before Ronan Fitzpatrick stroked over a 45 for the lead point.

Midfielder Padraig Clancy then grabbed their third goal, a magnificent solo effort, to make it 3-5 to 0-9 with 15 minutes to play. Knockbeg had an early opportunity to get back in the recknoning when they were awarded a penalty with Fionn Bergin’s shot foot-blocked but Colin Dunne’s effort went wide.

Eventually the midlanders got their first score of the second half from Oisin Byrne after 48 minutes but Padraig Clancy kept Newry four ahead with what would be their final score of the game a minute later.

Conor Deery needed to be sharp in to stop a goal bound shot as the school on the Laois – Carlow border laid siege on his goal for the final ten minutes. Three Fionn Bergin frees narrowed the gap to one by the fourth minute of injury time. But time ran out and the Cup headed north for the first time.

A team that can find the net is always a danger and there was a goal threat from St Colman’s throughout, while Knockbeg will look back on the red card for Hooney and their failure to find the target during the third quarter as the main reasons their obvious talent was not rewarded with silverware.

St Colman’s : C Deery, A Norris, J Howlett, M Hynes, R Campbell, P McGrane, T Magee, P Clancy (1-1), R Fitzpatrick (0-1 free), A Crimmins (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free), C Rodgers (0-1), R French, D McCarthy (0-1), O McCafferty (1-0), O O’Hare
Subs :

St Mary’s : S Dollard, J Kelly, O Doran, B McDonald, J McEvoy, B Crotty, S Buggy, C Burke (0-1), I Shannahan, O Hooney (0-2), C Dunne (0-2), O Doyle, B McMahon, O Byrne (0-3, 0-2 frees), F Bergin (0-6, 0-4 frees)
Subs: O Nolan for Doran (35m), C Bergin for McMahon (57)

Referee : Liam Devenney