Donaghmore too strong for gallant Rathmore in McLarnon final

McLarnon Cup Final

St. Joseph’s Donaghmore 4-10 Rathmore Grammar 1-3

A sparkling second half performance from favourites, St. Joseph’s Donaghmore saw them run out convincing winners over Rathmore Grammar in this McLarnon Cup final at the Dub on Friday night.

The Belfast side kept in touch during the opening half, thanks to a goal from Garret Cowan in the 4th minute when he finished to the net from close range after a Se Ferris free had dropped short and Gearoid Adams side will feel they should have had a penalty when Fiontan O’Boyle was brought down with 12 minutes gone.

At that stage Rathmore led by 1-0 to 0-1 with their well organised defence denying the Tyrone side time and space but slowly Niall Kelly’s side began to take control.

Cormac Drayne fired over their first score in the 16trh minute and the same player added a second from a 30 meter free before Darragh Donaghy tied the contest when he split the posts in the 21st minute.

John McKenna, who had an excellent game at mid-field for the Tyrone side, edged them in front for the first time with two minutes remaining to the break but the final score of the half fell to Rathmore’s Rory McErlean who’s pointed free in injury time left it all square at the short whistle.

With the slight breeze now behind them it was St. Joseph’s Donaghmore who started the second half on the front foot and Leo Hughes restored their lead with a point after 25 seconds and the lively Cormac Drayne added another with only two minutes on the clock.

The Tyrone College were started to move the ball about with precision and stretching the Rathmore defence and when Noah Grimes got in for a goal in the 5th minute it already looked a long way back for the Belfast side.

Drayne received a Black card for shenanigans during the celebration but even with 14 men St. Joseph’s continued to dictate possession with Rathmore now relying on the counter-attack as they tried to keep in touch.

Rory McErlean opened their second half account from a well struck free in the 7th minute but Darragh Donaghy replied immediately for the eventual winners to restore their five point advantage.

Rathmore Grammar continued to fight against the ever increasing odds as Rory McErlean struck another excellent free between the uprights in the 13th minute and then a great block from Leo Hughes denied Michael Morgan as the big Glenavy man looked in for a goal.

Back came the Tyrone side as they began to stretch the Rathmore defence with their accurate passing and slick movement of the ball and Cormac Drayne announced his re-introduction from the sin-bin with a couple of wides before the impressive Conor O’Neill pointed in the 20th minute.

Drayne followed with a goal, a minute later when he was first to react to a Grimes free that rebounded of an upright and when a Leo Hughes free sailed through a crowded goalmouth in the 24th minute and ended in the Rathmore net it was well and truly over.

Ratmore never gave up but could find no way through an excellent St. Joseph’s defence and both sides emptied their bench at this stage as Donaghmore moved the ball around with increasing confidence.

The last score of the game fell the way of Niall Kelly’s side with wing half, Conor O’Neill getting in for his side’s fourth goal with time almost up to put the icing on a fine individual performance.

This was an excellent performance from the Tyrone College and they look a side well capable of going on to contest the All Ireland series and they have excellent players all over the field.

Ben Hughes, Darragh Donaghy, Leo Huhges, James Rafferty, Conor O’Neill, John McKenna, Ronan Molloy and Cormac O’Neill were their best performers on a night where every player played their part.

Spare a thought for Rathmore Grammar who threatened to cause an upset during the early exchanges and had their claims for a penalty been awarded in the 12th minute it might well have given them the cushion they needed to push on.

They defended superbly during the opening half but seemed to run out of steam after the break but Conor Logue, Se Ferris, Rory McErlean, Michael Morgan Garret Cowan, and Fiontan O’Boyle all look players with a bright future.

DONAGHMORE: L Quinn; J McNally, B Hughes, D Donaghy (1-2, 1-0 free); J Rafferty, J Clarke (0-2), C O’Neill (1-1); S Scullion, J McKenna; L Hughes, N Grimes (1-1), MJ Mansell; C Drayne (1-3, 0-1 free), M McNally, R Molloy.
Subs: C Sweeney (0-1) for MJ Mansell (37), C Donaghy for C Drayne (53), E O’Neill for D Donaghy (55), J Field for J McNally (57)

RATHMORE: K Dobrowolski; C Devlin, D Mooney, M Lloyd; T Lloyd, C Logue, S Ferris; R Grant, O Arthurs; D McGurk, R McErlean (0-3, all frees), O Conlon; G Cowan (1-0), M Morgan, F O’Boyle.
Subs: S Doyle for M Lloyd (HT), R Smyth for G Cowan (HT), C Blaney for O Arthurs (39), D Martin for D Mooney (52), S McCarthy for R Grant (52)

REFEREE: Kevin Fallon (Armagh)

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