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Wallace in wonderland as holders lose in shoot-out

Wallace High 2 Sullivan Upper 2 (Wallace won 3-2 on penalty runs)

On a high: Wallace celebrate their McCullough Cup final success at Lisnagarvey after beating holders Sullivan Upper
On a high: Wallace celebrate their McCullough Cup final success at Lisnagarvey after beating holders Sullivan Upper

By Graham Hamilton

The McCullough Cup is back at Wallace High for the first time in six years, but they had to do it the hard way, finally beating holders Sullivan Upper on penalty runs after a 2-2 draw at Lisnagarvey yesterday.

There's little doubt the Lisburn school deserved their success for, after a fairly equal first half, they dominated the second and really should have avoided the game going into the dreaded shoot-out.

Indeed, they thought they had it won when Troy Chambers put them 2-1 ahead with just 64 seconds left on the clock, converting his second penalty corner.

But a stubborn Sullivan didn't want to give up their trophy and Matthew Willis hammered in the equaliser with only 14 seconds remaining, a tremendous shot on the reverse.

And so it all went down to the penalty runs when five from each side get the chance to run at the goalkeeper with eight seconds to try score a goal.

Sullivan were first to go and Isaac Hart and Daniel Girvin both put their efforts wide, whereas Troy Chambers had his saved and Ben Clarke converted to edge Wallace ahead.

Harry Morris and Patrick Crookshanks then slotted home for Sullivan, whereas Max Taylor had his effort saved and Jonny Lynch converted to leave matters at 2-2 with one run each to go.

With Patrick Rose's attempt sailing over the crossbar, it was all down to Cole Chambers and the Wallace defender slotted home to start his team's celebrations.

It looked like Sullivan were on their way to retaining their trophy when they started the game so well.

They squandered a second minute penalty stroke when Crookshanks had his effort palmed away by Wallace goal keeper Ben Cooke, and Daniel Girvin went close after good work by Harry Morris.

It was Harry's twin brother who finally put the Holywood school ahead when he deflected home a crash ball into the circle, a lead they would hold until half-time despite Troy Chambers having two penalty corners saved or blocked.

Chambers, though, didn't miss at the third time of asking as he levelled matters in the 45th minute and, although Girvin came close at the other end, the Wallace penalty corner count was rising all the time.

When Chambers converted his ninth corner of the game with just over a minute remaining, it seemed Wallace had won, only for Willis to go up to the other end and level the scores once again with a well taken shot on the reverse stick.

And so it was all down to penalty runs, with Cole Chambers staying cool to clinch the winner.

Afterwards Sullivan captain Harry Morris paid tribute to Wallace.

"Overall, they deserved to win," he admitted afterwards. "But all credit to our boys who have come a long way over the past year."

At the presentations, the trophy was handed over to Wallace captain Jonny Lynch by Nigel McCullough on behalf of the McCullough family, and Troy Chambers received the man of the match award from Ulster Hockey president Adare Brady.

WALLACE HIGH: Ben Cooke, Peter Milligan, Max Taylor, Cameron Forrest, Zach Benson, Cole Chambers, Oliver Patterson, Troy Chambers, Jonny Lynch, Adam Clarke, Ben Clarke. Subs: Tim Curragh, Paddy Watson, Sam Boyd, Thomas Cherry, Daniel McElhinney, David Furphy

SULLIVAN UPPER: Fraser Todd, Patrick Crookshanks, Michael Trimble, Isaac Hart, Tom McClintock, Matthew Willis, Harry Morris, Matthew Morris, Daniel Girvin, Patrick Rose, Jack McNeill. Subs: Djay Erskine, Harry Yarr, Conor Matthews, Connor Smith, Nathan Keown, Harrison Dunlop

Umpires: E McFerran, K McGoldrick

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