Saints turn on the style to clinch Gallagher Cup

Report by John McIlwaine – Pics by Dylan McIlwaine

Danske Bank Gallagher Cup final

St Mary’s Belfast 3-17 Cross & Passion Ballycastle 1-10

St Mary’s CBGS Belfast turned in a display of the highest quality to lift the Danske Bank Gallagher Cup at the expense of CPC Ballycastle  at Slemish Park, Ballymena earlier today.

With the strong wind at their backs in the opening half St Mary’s powered their way to a 1-11 to 0-4 at the break. The strength of the wind meant CPC were still in with a shout, despite their ten point deficit, but they needed to grab a couple of goals early in the second half and though they came close their were denied by a couple of brilliant saves by St Mary’s keeper Aodh Mullan. They did eventually get through with a brilliant goal from Michael O’Boyle but by that stage it was too late to make a real difference and St Mary always found and answer any time a difficult question was asked.

St Mary’s opened strongly as they fired over four points without reply and indeed they probably should have more had Conor Boyle’s shot not flew inches over the bar after being picked out brilliantly on the edge of the small square. CPC were really up against it but slowly they began to gain a foothold and they must have been pleased with their progress when they cut the gap back to just four (0-6 to 0-2) midway through the opening half. However the Belfast boys were not to be denied and when Darragh Murphy batted the ball to the CPC net, following a fine save from keeper Kevin McAuley, they were back in command as they pushed on to lead by 1-11 to 0-4 at the break.

St MarysCPC 5

CPC needed early goals to keep their hopes of a comeback alive and they created a couple of early chances to do just that only to be denied by the excellent Mullan in the Rossa goal. The Belfast boys broke hit back to increase the lead to eleven and when Niall Fallon goaled to stretch the advantage to thirteen there was just no way back for the Ballycastle school. They kept battle though and got some reward when O’Boyle scored a superb goal after being set up by Conor O’Mullan but it was always going to be a struggle to close such a wide gap. St Mary’s soaked it all up and then took over again in the final minutes with a scoring burst of their own, the pics of which was a brilliantly taken goal by substitute Michael McDaid who sent a real ‘rasper’ high into the CPC net.

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Overall a high class game and anyone who witnessed it could not be but impressed by the high skill level of each team. The loss of Enda Og McGarry robbed CPC of their centre back and leader but this St Mary’s team are a team brim-full of talent who have a very bright future in the game.

St Mary’s: A Mullan, D Wilson, P McLaughlin, B McAuley, D Magee, D Murray capt., C Ó Duifin 0-2, E Trainor 0-2, 0-1 free, R Murray 0-2, J Burns 0-3, 0-1 free, L Carr 0-1, M Toner 0-1, N Fallon 1-0, D Murphy 1-3, 0-1 free, C Boyle 0-3.

Sub: M McDaid 1-0 for N Fallon (45)

Cross & Passion : K McAuley, R McCormick, C McGlynn, J McGowan, R McClean, D Devlin 0-1 free, C McKinley, R McMullan 0-3, 0-1 free, M O’Boyle 1-3, 0-1 free, C O’Mullan, E Laverty, C McGarry, O Elliot 0-2, C O’Connor, D Quinn 0-1.

Referee : Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)

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