Ciaran Gourley has no complaints as Dungannon are outclassed
St Pat's Ac 0-8 - 2-12 St Pat's Col
Everything comes to those who wait. And few teams have had to exercise the level of patience required from St Patrick's College, Cavan in their pursuit of a major sporting goal.
But yesterday at the Athletics Grounds, Armagh, a 43-year famine ended in the most spectacular fashion when the Breffni county seat of learning thundered to a stunning MacRory Cup success.
All the heartbreak, frustration and disappointment experienced through the decades were forgotten as a well-drilled, composed and utterly committed side wrote their own special chapter in the history of one of Ulster's most enduring competitions.
Thomas Galligan's masterly contribution at midfield, a deadly two-goal salvo from diminutive corner-forward Thomas Edward Donohoe, a brace of superb saves by goalkeeper Fergal O'Rourke and an inspired performance from centre-half-back Cian McManus offer a snapshot of the in-depth quality of a team that were clearly on a mission.
No wonder joint-manager Finbarr O'Reilly was ecstatic.
"We have had bleak times in the past but an awful lot of hard work went into this MacRory Cup campaign and it has paid off," beamed O'Reilly.
"These boys won't hear of the word defeat and now we will focus on the Hogan Cup. This is a big breakthrough for us and we hope it marks the start of better things."
The Academy flattered to deceive at midfield, the early influence of Colin Campbell and Brian Kennedy giving way to the subsequent total authority of the immense Galligan.
Academy manager Ciaran Gourley, although palpably distraught, was gracious in defeat.
"We missed a couple of goal opportunities and had they been taken it might have been different. The Cavan side kept chipping away at us and then when we found that we were chasing the game, we left ourselves open at the back and got punished. Having said that, they were the better team and deserved their win," said Gourley.
The Breffni boys led by 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time despite having lost their cultured full-forward Ben Conaty, who was replaced by Ryan O'Neill.
But if the winners were naïve in terms of protecting their possession and carrying the ball into tackles before the break, these flaws were quickly erased from their play in the second half.
And with Donohue, the impressive Darragh Kennedy and Pauric Smith thriving on a bountiful supply of the ball, the Cavan side swept into top gear.
A three-point haul spanning the 39th and 46th minutes following goalkeeper O'Rourke's miraculous save from Daniel Kerr triggered their level of dominance.
The loss of skipper Fintan McClure to a black card in the 41st minute impacted the Academy's morale and although Ciaran Higgins, Conall Lyons and Kerr tried hard, they were unable to help wrest back the initiative.
The Cavan team's authority was cemented when 16-year-old Donohue stole in for his first goal in the 50th minute and then garnished this with a second five minutes later before Galligan appropriately had the final say when he steered over a long-range point.
In the day's curtain-raiser, the all-Monaghan MacLarnon Cup decider ended in an emphatic 4-8 to 0-8 win for Our Lady's, Castleblayney over Patrician, Carrickmacross.
A superb solo show by Barry McGinn underlined Our Lady's decisive victory as the lively Doohamlet player scored 1-6 and created several other scores.
By half time McGinn had already left his imprint on the game by landing 1-2 as his side took a 1-5 to 0-3 lead at that stage.
With Jamie Walsh and James Wilson also prominent in their attack, the Castleblayney side thrived on valuable possession won in midfield by John Leonard and Conor Marray.
Walsh and Wilson emphasised their respective roles when they each grabbed a goal as their side streaked into a 3-5 to 0-6 lead.
There was simply no way back for the Carrickmacross school and when Michael Branagan netted a fourth Castleblayney goal, he merely underlined the gulf that existed between the sides.
St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon: C Donaghy; C Barker, C Higgins, C Lyons; L Rafferty, S Corr, M McKernan; C Campbell, B Kennedy; C O'Hagan 0-3 (all frees), D Kerr 0-2, C Kilpatrick; R Coleman 0-1 (f), F McClure 0-1 (f), M Donnelly 0-1. Subs: P Molloy for McClure (41), L Mallon for Kilpatrick (48), N Muldoon for Corr (58). Black card: McClure (41).
St Patrick's College, Cavan: F O'Rourke; D Lunney, D Monaghan, L Fortune 0-1; D Kennedy 0-2, C McManus, J J McGovern; T Galligan 0-2, B Argue 0-1; P Smith 0-1, P Leddy 0-1, M McKenna 0-1; C Smith, B Conaty, T E Donohoe 2-3 (3f). Subs: R O'Neill for Conaty (14), D Brady for Leddy (39), P O'Reilly for Lunney (46), S Fortune for L Fortune (51), J Veale for McKernan (57). Yellow card: Argue (46).
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)