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MacRory Cup: St Pat’s chiefs left to rue the one that slipped away

By John Campbell

St. Patrick’s Academy Dungannon joint coaches Peter Herron and Ciaran Gourley were left to rue the chances that were spurned as they reflected on their team’s one-point eclipse by a St. Colman’s side that Herron graciously labelled “top-class”.

No one is more familiar with the vagaries of gaelic football than the affable long-serving Academy mentor but his assessment that a draw might have been a fair result yesterday would certainly brook little argument with neutral observers.

“There were spells when we dominated but we missed some chances near the end that on another day we might have taken,” said Herron.

“Obviously there was one score in particular which was given about which there could be some doubt but overall you have to hand it to St. Colman’s.

“They played very well and were able to hold out in what was a tight finish — they are a top-class side.”

And Herron added: “I am still very proud of this Academy side.

“There are a lot of quality players in there who I feel will go on to represent Tyrone at the highest level. They gave their best effort.”

His coaching colleague Ciaran Gourley, who has won All-Ireland honours with Tyrone but whose playing career has been severely disrupted by injury, expressed the view that St Colman’s had shown the ability to finish the match strongly which stood them in good stead.

“There was very little between the sides for most of the game although I thought that when we went two points up in the third quarter we might have been able to push on from there,” said Rock clubman Gourley.

“I felt we played good football at times but you would have to say that the way in which Caolan Mooney finished his two goals was superb.

“He is a class act and he certainly is leaving Ulster colleges football on a high.”

The experience which several players in the Academy team gained as part of the Tyrone outfit that won the All-Ireland Minor title last year was very much in evidence yesterday but was not enough to take their team to victory.

“We created a lot of chances but we were not able to make the most of them,” added Gourley. “The Academy boasts a good record in the MacRory Cup but unfortunately we were just not able to enhance it on this occasion.”

Ulster Colleges’ Council secretary Seamus Woods hailed the match as “the perfect finale” to the competition.

“This was a wonderful advertisement for Ulster colleges football,” he said. “It was fast and open with some great scores — the curtain has come down on this year’s MacRory Cup in the grand manner,” beamed Woods.

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