Conor Glass reflects on terrific MacRory Cup triumph for St Patrick's
St Patrick's 5-7 St Paul's 1-9
When he mounted the steps of the grandstand at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh yesterday to take delivery of the Dankse Bank MacRory Cup, St Patrick's College, Maghera captain Conor Glass brought the curtain down on one element of his sporting career while heralding the launch of another.
In capturing his third medal in the premier Ulster Colleges' sector in his side's 5-7 to 1-9 victory over St Paul's, Bessbrook, Glass wrote his own special chapter in its history, his achievement embellished in his role as skipper.
And as he basked in the euphoria of the south Derry school's 15th MacRory Cup triumph, Glass switched the focus to his imminent career in the Australian Football League with the Hawthorn club.
"Memories are made of this," said Glass as he surveyed the thousands of St Patrick's fans that formed a colourful carpet on the playing area.
"This means so much to me. I never thought I would get a third medal so this is a real bonus. But most importantly, it is a triumph for the team, an achievement that we can all share in.
"I am looking forward to going to the Hawthorn club but my involvement with St Patrick's and the Glen club will stay with me forever. I have enjoyed every minute that I have played with both teams.
"We can now turn our attention to the Hogan Cup and that will be a fresh challenge but this gives us more encouragement."
Yesterday, it was an inspirational first-half performance that laid the groundwork for this latest St Patrick's coup.
By half-time they already had one hand on the Cup. They had pirated two goals before the seven-minute mark, created several chances and had given every impression that they would boss the match.
Shane McGuigan hit the back of the St Paul's net with just over two minutes gone and when he repeated the dose five minutes later he had put sufficient daylight between the sides to suggest that St Paul's were out of their depth.
Even when Niall McGuinness and Jarlath Og Burns potted points for St Paul's, it represented nothing more than a pin-prick in the soaring St Patrick's morale.
And when Francis Kearney pounced for St Patrick's third goal in the 11th minute, he again exposed the frailties of a defence that appeared incapable of mounting a modicum of resistance.
The St Paul's agony was heightened even before the 20th minute had been reached when Paddy Quigg was on hand to touch home a fourth goal for the Maghera outfit.
Yet St Paul's managed to dig deep into their reserves of character after the break to rein in their opponents and indeed cause mild palpitations within their ranks when they missed a goal and a point at a critical stage.
Liam Kerr and Shea Loye sparked the Bessbrook team's recovery, the former's 40th-minute goal proving a major shot in the arm.
It took a late goal from a penalty by Conall Darragh to restore gloss to the scoreboard for St Patrick's and ultimately for them it was the rekindling of glory with which they have become well acquainted.
For St Paul's, however, it was heartbreak.
St Patrick's College, Maghera: S Cassidy; O McKeever, P Turner, K Feeney; P McCormack, S Downey, C McAllister; C Glass, J Doherty; P Kearney, P Quigg 1-0, O McWilliams 0-2; C Darragh 1-0, S McGuigan 2-4, F Kearney 1-1. Subs: D McPeake for Quigg (52), T Walsh for McKeever (52), M Mullaan for McWilliams (57), C Mulholland for McAllister (58), F Higgins for P Kearney (60).
St Paul's HS, Bessbrook: M Murphy; N McGuinness 0-1, D Loye, C McDonnell; E McCabe, R Gaskin, C Clarke; J Og Burns 0-1, D O'Hagan 0-1; R Keenan, C Magennis, A Boyle; L Kerr 0-3 (2f), S Loye 1-3 (1f), R McSherry. Subs: S Finnegan for Keenan (36), J Durnin for O'Hagan (39), R Hughes for N Magennis (45). Yellow cards: O'Hagan (37), D Loye (54).
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan).