Tam McGinley sings praises of De La Salle's record breaking Senior Cup heroes
De La Salle 3-1 St Malachy's
De La Salle coach Tam McGinley hailed the sporting versatility of his victorious squad after they walked off with the Danske Bank Belfast Senior Schools' Cup for a record ninth time.
Goals from Daniel Rocks, Declan Dunne and Nathan Fox helped them to a 3-1 win over St Malachy's at New Grosvenor, with Paddy Burns getting a consolation for the Antrim Road school.
It was Dunne's performance in particular that won praise from McGinnley, but the team in general deserved the plaudits after taking control of the game early on and never letting go.
"It is a massive achievement to come from the west-Belfast area, a more traditional hurling and gaelic playing area," said McGinnley.
"It shows that the players are talented athletes that can adapt to multiple sports.
"Declan Dunne, he isn't a traditional centre forward, he has a lot of talent, but he's actually played more as a goalkeeper than as a striker. I'm very proud of my whole team."
De La Salle made a flying start and were close to taking the lead in the opening minutes, but Dunne couldn't get quite connect when Sean Wallace's cross arrived at the back post.
Dunne was, however, heavily involved in the opening goal, which came after 10 minutes.
His cross was misjudged by St Malachy's goalkeeper Aiden Tobin and the ball fell to the feet of Rocks, who fired powerfully into the net from close range.
Da La Salle doubled their lead just four minutes later, with Tobin again contributing to his team's downfall. Burns cleared off the line after the goalkeeper's error, but his fellow defenders couldn't complete the job and Dunne drilled the loose ball home.
St Malachy's refused to roll over and they responded to the early double setback by pushing for a goal that would get them back into the game.
They were just inches away from doing exactly that when Padraig Slane's sweetly struck free-kick from the edge of the box sailed narrowly wide of the right-hand post on 28 minutes.
St Malachy's were starting to up the tempo, without creating a clear-cut scoring chance and they were almost hit by a sucker punch just before half time when De La Salle's Colm Mooreland pounced on a defensive mistake, but shot over the bar.
De La Salle goalkeeper Tiarnan Campbell made a great save from Niall Gilleece a minute into the second half and that proved to be a big moment in the game as two minutes later Rocks made it 3-0 with a powerful shot.
With confidence flowing in the De La Salle ranks it was almost 4-0; Mooreland won the ball from Ethan McErlean, but he could only shoot straight into the grateful clutches of Tobin when well placed to score.
St Malachy's pulled a goal back as Burns hit a free-kick that flew into the roof of the net, but they couldn't score again, even when De La Salle were reduced to 10 men in the last minute.
The impressive Fox was sent off for a second yellow card after he hauled down Slane when he was through on the goal.
De La Salle: Tiarnan Campbell, Rory Courtney, Barry McCrea, Niall McParland (C), Corey Walsh, Nathan Fox, Donal Rocks, Sean Wallace,Caoimhin McGuinness, Noel Healy, Declan Dunne.
St Malachy's: Aiden Tobin, Ethan McErlean, Eoghan O'Hare, Paddy Ross, Jack Maguire, Canice McDonald, Niall Gilleece, Lorcan McIlroy, Bobby Burns (C), Padraig Slane, Paddy Burns.
Referee: David Kelly