St Galls leave it late to clinch McDermott Cup

South Antrim McDermott Cup Final

St Galls 3-10-3-09 St Teresa’s

By Kevin Herron at Colaiste Feirste

St Gall’s left it late to claim the 2018 McDermott Cup after a 3-10-3-09 victory over St Teresa’s in a breathtaking decider at Colaiste Feirste on Saturday evening.

Mark Small rifled home the game’s opening goal after almost two minutes to give St Teresa’s an early lead but St Galls hit back with a Sean O’Hara goal that helped the Milltown side to a 1-07-1-03 lead at the break.

The sides traded goals within two minutes of each other just after the restart through Adam O’Hare and Francis Dugan but just before the midway point Darren O’Hare appeared to have secured St Galls victory with a third goal to give them a 3-09-2-05 lead.

St Teresa’s gradually fought their way back into the game and levelled late on through an Anto Varndell goal – extra-time looked to be on the cards until Michael Hopkins landed the decisive score to claim the McDermott Cup for the Milltown men.

There was much anticipation ahead of the McDermott Cup decider between the top two sides in the South Antrim senior football league and within the first two minutes St Teresa’s hit the front – Francis Dugan’s free was palmed short by St Galls goalkeeper Niall McCurdy and Mark Small was lurking to rifle to the net and give St Teresa’s a 1-00-0-00 lead.

St Gall’s hit back through Leigh McCann and after a St Teresa’s sideline ball was intercepted by Darren O’Hare the Milltown side profited with Stephen McDonagh firing over the bar.

Michael Hopkins levelled the game up after 11 minutes and his side hit the front just before the midway point through Che Ferguson who evaded heavy pressure and popped the ball over the bar to make it 1-00-0-04.

Sean O’Hara stretched his sides lead – converting a free after Michael Hopkins was shoved in the back and a minute later O’Hara struck his sides opening goal. On 17 minutes O’Hare brothers Adam and Darren combined and Darren slipped in O’Hara who fired to the roof of the net past Caolan McCool to give St Galls a 1-00-1-05 lead.

St Teresa’s were wasteful in front of the posts between the 2nd and 21st minute when Luke Cassin burst forward and shot over the black spot for St Teresa’s first point of the half – the sides then traded scores for the remainder of the half.

Sean O’Hara and Adam O’Hare twice increased their sides lead to five points – on each occasion St Teresa’s responded through goal scorer Small from a placed ball and play as the Glen Road side trailed 1-03-1-07 at the break.

St Gall’s should have increased their lead upon the second-half’s resumption – Sean O’Hara picked out Darren O’Hare from a quick-free and the Milltown sides full-forward dragged his low shot inches wide of the post.

A minute later O’Hare combined with younger brother Adam who in turn found out Leigh McCann for the midfielders second point of the evening – the O’Hare brothers combination play paid dividends again on 36 minutes as St Galls found their second goal.

Sean O’Hara’s picked out Darren O’Hare from a quick free and O’Hare fisted the ball to brother Adam who fired to the net and gave St Galls a 2-08-1-03 lead.

St Teresa’s appeared to be in big trouble but within two minutes had given themselves a lifeline – scorer of the opening goal Small picked out Anthony Varndell in space – Varndell saw his low shot parried by McCurdy in the St Galls goal but Francis Dugan scooped the ball into the net and it was game on again, 2-08-2-03.

Luke Cassin hit back to back scores for his side in between Jarlath Mervyn slotting the ball over at the other end – but St Teresa’s appeared to be on the comeback trail.

They were dealt a fresh blow however on 42 minutes as Sean O’Hara linked up with Adam O’Hare – O’Hare’s shot appeared to be dropping short until older brother Darren fisted the ball past Caolan McCool to give St Gall’s a seven-point lead approaching the final quarter of the game, 3-09-2-05.

Luke Cassin responded to O’Hare’s goal from a free and ten minutes from time St Teresa’s almost had their third goal – Francis Dugan picked out Mark Small whose low drive was deflected behind for a 45’ from which a point arrived courtesy of Sean Maguire who claimed Dugan’s short attempt.

Two converted Mark Small frees left just three separating the sides with little under five minutes remaining and two minutes from time St Teresa’s stunned St Gall’s as Anto Varndell palmed the ball home at the back post to complete a seven-point swing and level the scores at 3-09-3-09.

It looked as though extra-time might have been required to separate the sides but with little under sixty seconds remaining St Galls substitute Kevin Bradley picked out Michael Hopkins in space and the corner-forward watched his shot sail over the bar to give the Milltown men a one-point lead.

Referee Joe Sloan allowed three minutes of injury-time but try as they might St Teresa’s couldn’t force extra-time and St Gall’s hung on to claim McDermott Cup success at Colaiste Feirste.

St Galls: N McCurdy, C McCloskey, P Walsh, P Loughran, C Ferguson (0-01), M Donnelly, J Mervyn (0-01), P Friel, L McCann (0-02), S McDonagh (0-01), A O’Hare (1-01), E Loughran, M Hopkins (0-02), D O’Hare (1-00), S O’Hara (1-01). Subs: C McKenna for C McCloskey (33 mins), K Bradley for S McDongah (42 mins), E McCurdy for A O’Hare (53 mins).

St Teresa’s: C McCool, G O’Rawe, K McLaughlin, P Glennon, A Dugan, P O’Rawe, O O’Neill, R Gallagher, L Cassin (0-04, 0-01f), E Hamill, S Maguire (0-01), D Adams, M Small (1-04, 0-03f), C McCann, F Dugan (1-00). Subs: A Varndell (1-00) for C McCann (43 mins), R McDonnell for O O’Neill (45 mins), N McGettigan for E Hamill (52 mins).

Referee: Joe Sloan (O’Donnells)

Pics by Mark Marlow

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