St Galls edge past St Pauls in thrilling Nipper Quinn decider

Nipper Quinn Cup Final 

St Pauls 4-05-1-15 St Galls 

By Kevin Herron 

Photos from Bert Trowlen

St Galls claimed the Nipper Quinn Cup on Sunday afternoon, coming out on the right side of a thrilling final 1-15-4-05 against a much-fancied St Pauls side. 

It was meeting of the top two sides in U-13 South-Antrim hurling this year- St Pauls began as favourites- having gone through the league campaign unbeaten and defeated St Galls along the way. 

The Shaws Road outfit opened the scoring through a Daire Thornbury point but were rocked as St Galls scrambled home the first goal of the game through Ruairi McIlhatton. 

A converted free followed from Odhran Bellew and Conall Dempsey provided a magnificent point from range before an own goal at the other end handed St Pauls a route back into proceedings. 

Finn Smyth and Padraig Kelly notched back-to-back points for the Milltown side before scores were traded between Eamonn Kearney and Kelly. 

St Galls were 1-05-1-02 ahead, but their lead soon diminished, Oisin McLaren converted a free and then a superb individual strike saw him find the net to edge his side 2-03-1-05 ahead for the first time in proceedings. 

Odhran Bellew restored parity with a long-range free and a further placed ball from Padraig Kelly saw St Galls reclaim the lead. 

Kelly added two further scores before the break with McLaren intervening between times as St Galls led 1-09-2-04 at the midway point. 

St Pauls hit the front upon the second half’s resumption through a scrappy- but nonetheless- vital goal from Sean McMullan that gave his side a 1-09-3-04 lead. 

Eamonn Kearney added a point shortly after, though their lead was extinguished through successive scores courtesy of Padraig Kelly and Ruairi McIlhatton (free) to restore parity again. 

A second Oisin McLaren goal nudged his side ahead again and frees were then traded between McLaren and Padraig Kelly. 

Successive frees from Kelly and Odhran Bellew ensured that the bare minimum separated the sides and talisman Kelly would land back-to-back scores to ensure his side were ahead for the final time. 

Thereafter the Milltown outfit saw the game out to clinch the Nipper Quinn Cup at the end of a breath-taking encounter. 

South Antrim Chairman Frank Caldwell presents the Nipper Quinn Cup to St Galls captain Cairbre Mac Adaimh
Cousins Tiernan McDonnell and Finn Smyth (part of the winning Rossa and St Galls teams) pictured with proud grandmother Margret McDonnell

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