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Inspired St Mary's step into history books in great style

St Colman's 0-13 St Mary's 0-19

By John Campbell

St Mary's strode impressively into the history books when they captured the coveted Ulster Colleges' MacRory Cup for the first time at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh yesterday.

They may have had to exercise considerable patience in awaiting this success but the south Derry team certainly underpinned their qualities as worthy winners.

Exuding character, courage and skill in abundance, Magherafelt galloped over the final furlong after what was for the most part a tense affair to come out on top in some comfort.

Teamwork was very much the essence of their triumph, too. Here was an outfit in which every player knew his role and was prepared to give his last ounce of effort to the cause .

With skipper and player of the match Declan Cassidy giving a splendid lead, St Mary's defended diligently, broke forward in numbers and, perhaps most tellingly, converted most of the chances that came their way.

Goalkeeper Odhrán Lynch produced three stupendous saves to keep St Colman's at bay, Conor McCluskey and Matthew Loughran were defiance personified and Daniel Bradley and Kevin Small combined to chalk up 11 points between them in a masterclass in marksmanship.

An edgy first-half in which defences were on top was followed by a dynamic second period in which St Mary's slowly but surely got the measure of their opponents before applying the killer touch.

St Mary's just about deserved their 0-8 to 0-6 interval lead, Small and Bradley each pocketing two while Rian O'Neill and Aaron Gribben contributed a similar tally for the battling Newry side.

When the Bradley-Small alliance prospered further in the early stages of the second-half, visions of an historic feat began to form.

Yet there was never a hint of St Colman's lobbing in the towel. Rian O'Neill did his best to rally his troops, Conor O'Neill and Ryan Garvey strove manfully at midfield and Sean McCarthy held the defence together.

And their efforts looked to have borne fruit when their side nosed closer at 0-15 to 0-13 by the 52nd minute.

When St Mary's engaged a higher gear, though, the outcome was never in doubt.

Impressive substitute Tiaran McAteer hit the target twice, Bradley and Small once more displayed their sublime finishing artistry and suddenly St Mary's were ushered into seventh heaven.

For a school that had slumbered in the sporting shadows for too long, yesterday was truly a red-letter day.

St Mary's GS Magherafelt: O Lynch; C McCluskey, S Kelly, M Loughran; D Cassidy 0-1, C Devlin, E Kelly; K McCann, T Doherty 0-1; A Connolly 0-1, D Bradley 0-6 (4f), S McErlain; L Quinn 0-3, K Small 0-5, C Murphy. Subs: T McAteer 0-2 for McCann (43), M Rodgers for Connolly (58), J McCann for Kelly (58). Yellow cards: McCann (11), E Kelly (23).

St Colman's College, Newry: M Magill; L Brown, S McCarthy, C Killen 0-1; F McElroy, M Branniff, P Fegan; C O'Neill 0-1, R Garvey; J McCartan 0-1, R O'Neill 0-4 (1f, 1'45'), E McDonnell 0-2; M McCreesh 0-1, C McConville 0-1 (f), A Gribben 0-2. Subs: E Byrne for McCreesh (34), R Carr for Braniff (37), C McCartan for Brown (48), J McKee for Killen (BC 53). Yellow cards: Garvey (31), McElroy (45).

Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan).

Belfast Telegraph

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