Danske Bank Leonard Cup
Cross and Passion 1-08-2-09 St. Mary’s CBGS
By Kevin Herron from Ballymena
St. Mary’s CBGS fought back from a 0-07-0-01 deficit at the interval to claim a place in the Leonard Cup final at the expense of Cross and Passion after a 2-09-1-08 victory at Slemish Park, Ballymena this afternoon.
Cross and Passion were firmly on the front foot through a number of successfully converted frees by centre half forward Christy McGarry – though after the restart Dubhaltach Wilson capitalised on an early error to hit the net and then gave his side the lead through a series of successfully converted placed balls.
Christy McGarry restored Cross and Passion’s advantage with a goal less than ten minutes from time – though St Mary’s rallied and scores from Wilson, Diarmaid Rogan and a Niall Fallon goal ensured that St. Mary’s would secure a place in the decider.
St. Mary’s CBGS arguably began the game as pre-match favourites but struggled in the early stages against a hungry and driven Cross and Passion outfit.
Christy McAuley conjured up the opening point and Christy McGarry converted a free to double the Ballycastle sides lead.
It took St. Mary’s CBGS eleven minutes to register their first shot on target – but Dubhaltach Wilson converted a free to half the deficit, 0-02-0-01.
The Glen Road side were no match for Cross and Passion in the opening half an hour and further points from Tiarnan Donnelly, McGarry (free) and Ruairi McCormick moved their side 0-05-0-01 ahead with ten minutes of the opening half remaining.
Niall Fallon was unfortunate to see a glorious goal chance whizz wide of the post at the other end, Cross and Passion ended the half with two further points courtesy of Christy McGarry and Oisin Elliott (free) as the Ballycastle side were in firm control at the break with a 0-07-0-01 lead.
St. Mary’s required a quick start to the second period and got just that – with little more than sixty seconds on the clock a high ball into the Cross and Passion area was batted away by goalkeeper Pete Mullan and Dubhlatach Wilson quickly swept the loose ball to the net to give St. Mary’s a lifeline.
It was just the lift that the Glen Road side needed and they were firmly on the front foot – though their scoring arrived courtesy of the placed ball with St Galls ace Wilson converting five unanswered frees in a period of little less than twenty minutes as his side seized control and led 1-06-0-07 approaching the final stretch.
A two-point was little comfort to St. Mary’s who knew they had to stay alert at the other end and with eight minutes remaining they were caught cold as Cross and Passion edged in front for the second time.
Oisin Elliott’s free appeared to be tailing wide but was kept alive – the small ball bounced the St. Mary’s area like a pinball and eventually Christy McGarry was able to steer the ball beyond the reach of Rhys Camlin and into the St. Mary’s net to give his side a 1-07-1-06 lead.
Having already demonstrated immense character to claw their way back into proceedings St. Mary’s CBGS weren’t going to panic and restored parity with five minutes remaining through a seventh Dubhlatach Wilson free.
The Glen Road side edged in front once more as Diarmaid Rogan produced a sensational point from an acute angle to make it 1-08-1-07.
That lead was doubled through a Niall Fallon point and with less than three minutes remaining Fallon delivered the knock out punch that floored Cross and Passion.
The St Gall’s half forward had spurned two goal chances but it was third time lucky as Fallon rifled low past Pete Mullan to give his side a 2-09-1-07 lead.
Cross and Passion were in desperate need of a goal – however the St. Mary’s back six shut-up shop and the Ballycastle side could only conjure a late point through Oisin Elliott.
At the end of a thrilling sixty minutes it was St. Mary’s CBGS who claimed in the Leonard Cup decider and the Glen Road side will need to patiently wait a week to find out their opponent as St Pat’s Maghera take on St Killians in the outstanding last four clash.
Cross and Passion: P Mullan, P McAllister, J Bayfel, C Sheridan, J Colgan, O Elliott (0-02f), T Donnelly, R McCormack (0-01), O Donnelly, O Boyle, C McGarry (1-03, 0-02f), D Waterson, T Donnelly (0-01), C McAuley (0-01), D Kelly.
St. Mary’s CBGS: R Camlin, P Moyes, B McCauley, M McCluskey, S Hughes, F Mervyn, P Short, C Boyle, A Churchill, N McGarry, N Fallon (1-01), E McBriarity, D Rogan (0-01), C Duffy, D Wilson (1-07, 0-07f).
Referee: Malachy Leech (Oisin’s Glenariffe)