Max to the four as holders Wallace cruise into final
Wallace High 8 Methodist College 1
A stunning four-goal salvo from Wallace High School striker Max Taylor eased the holders to an emphatic victory over Methodist College in yesterday's McCullough Cup semi-final at Comber Road.
His eye-catching performance in what was essentially a solid team display provided glorious redemption for the teenager, who had been on the losing side for South Antrim in Sunday's 6-0 Kirk Cup semi-final defeat by Lisnagarvey.
Now Taylor can look forward to renewing his rivalry with a few of the younger members of the Garvey team when Wallace meet Friends' in a Lisburn derby in the schoolboys' showpiece on Thursday, December 12.
There was never any real doubt about the outcome yesterday, although Methody gave a good account of themselves for much of the game, trailing 3-1 at the break before conceding four more goals in the final 11 minutes when tiredness took its toll.
Taylor said: "We had an idea how Methody would play and all credit to our coaches, who set out a game-plan for us which we managed to execute pretty well.
"Although the scoreline might suggest otherwise, it certainly wasn't an easy game for us, and Methody made it difficult, especially in the first-half when they came back at us well.
"As for the goals, of course it was nice to score four, especially after drawing a blank on Sunday against Garvey, but my team-mates made it easy for me by setting them up on a plate.
"Like the rest of the South Antrim players, we were disappointed to lose the Kirk Cup game, but this makes up for it and we are delighted to be in the final again, and I suppose it illustrates the highs and low of sport."
Wallace coach Gareth Kidd was delighted with his team's performance and the manner in which they went about their business, sticking to the instructions that were handed out.
Kidd added: "At Wallace, we like to play a pass and move style of hockey and that's instilled into the players from first year to sixth form, and it was pleasing that we scored some good team goals."
After a cagey opening spell, the holders broke the deadlock in the 16th minute when Tim Curragh netted a penalty corner with the aid of a deflection.
Six minutes later, Taylor got his first of the day after Methody keeper Hamza Tareen had saved from Daniel McElhinney, who had stolen possession and raced into the circle.
Methody pulled one back in the 26th minute when team captain Matthew Campton converted his side's first set-piece, slapping the ball low into the net giving Ben Cooke no chance.
But the Belfast team conceded again three minutes later when Taylor was on hand to deflect the ball home with a first-time effort following good work down the right flank by Ben Clarke.
Wallace continued to press forward and McElhinney and Peter Milligan both went close to adding a fourth goal before half-time.
Five minutes after the restart, it was 4-1 when Ollie Patterson drove home a rebound after Clarke's shot had been saved by keeper Tareen and then Methody failed to convert four successive set-pieces to effectively seal the result.
The floodgates opened in the final quarter as Clarke made it 5-1 before Taylor completed his hat-trick, and the same two players added further well-worked goals in the last three minutes to wrap things up.
Wallace High: Ben Cooke; Tim Curragh, Cameron Forrest, Peter Milligan, Daniel McElhinney, Max Taylor, Ben Clarke, Oliver Patterson (capt.), Jude Graham, Paddy Watson, Sam Boyd. Subs: David Furphy, Todd Benson, Alfie Shanks, Josh Baird, Matthew Chambers, Pierce Thompson.
Methodist College: Hamza Tareen; Chris Morrison, Patrick McElhinney, James McBreen, James Hunter, Matthew Campton (capt.), James Clark, Harry Lynch, Will Moore, Stefan Van Waltstijn, Adam Kennedy. Subs: Domingos Ferreira, Rasif Chowdry, Brandon McEvoy, Marco Robb, Ben Trembly.
Umpires: Gareth Herron, Noel McBride