South Antrim U-14 Stout McDonald Cup Final
Sarsfields 2-05 St Paul’s 0-09
By Kevin Herron at Rossa Park
Sarsfields edged out neighbours St Pauls 2-05-0-09 in a fantastic and thrilling Stout McDonald Cup final at Rossa Park this evening.
It was the proverbial game of two halves as the tail end of Storm Ali aided both sides – crucially it was Sarsfields who held the first half wind advantage and two goals from Enda McCartan helped his side to a 2-04-0-03 lead at the break.
It was a back to the wall job for the Stewartstown side in the second period as St Pauls laid siege to the Sarsfields goal – points from Paul Donnelly brought his side back into contention, however some resolute Sarsfields defending kept the door shut as the Paddies prevailed after eight minutes of injury-time.
St Paul’s began the game as favourites having completed a league and Féile A double and were hoping to complete a clean sweep with victory over a Sarsfields side who themselves tasted Féile experience back in June.
Paul Donnelly opened the scoring through a converted free inside the first two minutes – it took Sarsfields six minutes to reply through Enda McCartan and from the resulting puck-out in the aftermath of McCartan’s equaliser – the opening goal arrived.
Conall Devlin’s puck-out was turned over and Oisin O’Colmáin picked out Enda McCartan with a delightful pass and the wing-half back shot rifled past Devlin to give his side a 1-01-0-01 lead.
Daniel Smyth converted a free and points from McCartan (free) and Anthony McGarrigle saw the Stewartstown youngsters’ lead 1-04-0-01 midway through the opening half.
St Paul’s responded through a Callum Murray point after an excellent pop off from Liam Walsh – but were forced onto the back foot by Sarsfields in the immediate aftermath.
Two minutes before the break Sarsfields took a huge step towards victory with the second goal of the game – originally defending a free around 45’ yards from goal – Daragh O’Colmáin cut out Thomas Duff’s free and his side went on the offensive, O’Colmáin popped the ball to Anthony McGarrigle whose high ball was claimed by McCartan and the Sarsfields number 6 shot past Devlin to make it 2-04-0-02.
Paul Donnelly responded with his second converted free of the evening a minute into first-half added time but the Shaws Road side had work to do at the break – trailing 2-04-0-03, albeit with a strong gail force wing to play into in the second period.
St Paul’s laid siege to Sarsfields goal from the outset in the second period – Paul Donnelly opted to try for goal from a free inside the opening sixty seconds, Sarsfields managed to clear their lines as far as Thomas Duff who shot over the bar.
Sean Munce added a second point five minutes into the half and Sarsfields were under serious pressure – two converted frees from the ever reliable Paul Donnelly closed the deficit to three with twelve minutes remaining and St Paul’s were determined to further close the 2-04-0-07 score line.
With ten minutes remaining Donnelly wound up for goal but saw his shot bravely blocked – the number 10 would bring with personal tally to five with a 32nd minute free however and just two-points separated the sides.
Six minutes from time Lorcán Phillips tested the Sarsfield’s rearguard with a high teasing ball into the danger zone – a goal mouth scramble ensured and Oisin Coleman emerged and made a vital block to keep his sides lead intact.
Thomas Duff converted a free to narrow the deficit to the bare minimum and with the St Pauls in the ascendancy the equalising score seemed only a matter of time away.
A minute into injury-time Lorcán Phillips backed himself for the equalising score – however some tremendous defending from Ahmed Soda and Enda McCartan curtailed Phillips and Sarsfields won themselves a free.
McCartan showed his undoubted quality selling three dummies on a solo run before popping the ball towards Fionn Jemfrey whose shot dropped short of the target and into the hands of Conall Devlin.
Five minutes of added time elapsed and Sarsfields had the chance to grab increase their lead through a free – Daniel Smyth took responsibility and his shot sailed between the posts for his sides’ first score of the half to make it 2-05-0-09.
There were still almost three nail biting minutes of time to negotiate before the Stewartstown side were able to celebrate at the sound of referee Paul McDonnell’s full-time whistle.
Sarsfields: A McStay, R McKenna, O Coleman, A Soda, D O’Colmáin, E McCartan (2-02, 0-01f), B Jackson, C Donnelly, E McBriarty, R McAreavey, A McGarrigle (0-01), P McBriarty, F Jemfrey, D Smyth (0-02f), O O’Colmáin. Subs: A McKenna for A Soda (25 mins), T Ward for R McKenna (28 mins), A Soda for O O’Colmáin (34 mins).
St Pauls: C Devlin, T Auld, C Connolly, T Duff (0-02, 0-01f), M Howell, D Maginn, D O’Sullivan, S Munce (0-01), C Killyleagh, P Donnelly (0-05f), D Quinn, B Burns, L Walsh, C Murray (0-01), C Duffy. Subs: L Phillips for L Walsh (21 mins).
Referee: Paul McDonnell (Rossa)