GAA Football

St Michael's, Enniskillen beat Omagh CBS to win MacRory Cup

Darragh Mac Brien finished with eight points in yesterday's MacRory Cup final. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Andy Watters

Danske Bank MacRory Cup final: St Michael’s, Enniskillen 0-16 Omagh CBS 2-6

ST MICHAEL’S Enniskillen weathered a second half storm to deservedly win the MacRory Cup at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.

Omagh CBS matched the winners for effort and made them battle to the final whistle but it was the individual quality in their ranks that allowed St Michael’s to capture the most coveted prize in Ulster schools’ football.

Forwards Micheal Glynn (0-4), Conor Love and man of the match Darragh MacBrien (0-8) were unmarkable at times, while sweeper Josh Largo-Ellis was outstanding in defence and skipper Brandon Horan was a tower of strength in midfield.

The all-Fermanagh side led by eight points at the break and, although Omagh managed to reduce the deficit to two midway through the second half, St Michael’s kicked on and captured the famous silverware for the sixth time in their history.

With a joyous chorus of ‘Chaaaaaam-peeee-own-eeees’ in the background, manager St Michael’s manager Dominic Corrigan paid tribute to his gifted group of players.

“They had to show their resilience,” he said.

“That’s what got us over the quarter and the semi-final and that’s what got us through there eventually today as well.

“We were compact at the break and fairly clinical up front and that was the highlight in the first and I suppose the highlight in the second half was the response to the two goals which was very good.”

After accepting the MacRory Cup on behalf of his school, St Michael’s captain Brandon Horan dedicated the win to the memory of Oisin McGrath who died tragically at the school in 2015.

“Oisin would have been on that panel today,” said Corrigan.

“It was very respectful of Brandon and it shows the quality of the group that, even in their great moment of joy, they thought of that. That’s a mark of quality.”

Although he was bitterly disappointed for his own players, Omagh manager Kieran Donnelly went to the St Michael’s dressingroom and congratulated Corrigan’s team on their win.

“They are a tremendous team,” he said.

“They seemed to get a start on us and we really couldn’t cope with their pace – young Darragh MacBrien was excellent and Love as well and we had our fastest men on them.

“Tactically they had that better fluidity going forward, more pace up front and they caused us serious problems.”

He added: “When we got it back to two we needed the next couple of scores but we missed a couple and St Michael’s were hitting everything, they were very clinical and credit to them, they were excellent in their movement and their score-taking was top notch.”

Glynn and MacBrien were the tormentors-in-chief as St Michael’s ran into the wind in the first half. Glynn finished with 0-4, including a point from a penalty when he slipped as he struck the ball, while Bellnaleck’s MacBrien registered 0-5, including four from play.

Omagh had the elements in their favour but they over-elaborated with the ball and their attack -minded opponents looked dangerous every time they raided forward.

Glynn opened the scoring and MacBrien added two more points after Simon Garrity briefly had Omagh level.

Mark Hayes had cut the gap to a point before willing full-forward Love broke to get on the end of a long ball from out of defence, he turned and played in Glynn and the umpires spotted a push in the back by his marker Antoin Fox.

Glynn took the penalty himself but slipped as he struck the ball and it ballooned over the bar towards the vocal band of St Michael’s ‘ultras’ on the town end terrace (they all moved to the other end for the second half).

Daniel Fullerton’s free left it 0-5 to 0-3 but the Fermanagh students surged ahead from there to the break. MacBrien hit three more and there were points from Largo-Ellis, Pol McKervey and Glynn as the half finished with St Michael’s 0-11 to 0-3 ahead and in pole position.

With nothing to lose, Omagh changed tactics for the second half. They went man-to-man, pushed up on the St Michael’s kick-outs and made a real game of it.

Sean McDonagh and Cormac McBride both landed points to hint at a recovery and then Garrity took Eoin MacIomaire’s defence-splitting pass and was one-on-one with Sean McNally.

The St Michael’s goalkeeper illegally blocked his low shot with his foot and referee Barry Cassidy signaled penalty for the second time in the game. Fullerton sent McNally the wrong way and Omagh were back in it.

A McDonagh point left just two between the sides but St Michael’s regained their composure and surged ahead again. Substitute Garvan Quigley edged them a point further ahead and MacBrien landed his first of the half to leave four in it with 10 minutes remaining.

Omagh pushed forward again but Largo-Ellis’s interception typified the tenacity in the St Michael’s defence and his side broke up the attack and the willing Love popped up to kick a deserved score.

MacBrien stretched the gap between the teams to six points but Omagh weren’t finished. Aodhan McConnell picked out McDonagh and he rifled a superb finish past McNally on the run.

Hopes were high again but only briefly because Horan’s mastery in midfield won a series of McNally kick-outs and allowed his school to keep the ball.

MacBrien added a free to calm any lingering nerves and the final whistle was the queue for a horde of elated St Michael’s supporters to invade the pitch. Horan accepted the cup to a deafening roar and next up is a Hogan Cup semi-final against St Jarlath’s of Tuam.

St Michael’s: S McNally; L Flanagan, G Cavanagh, J Horan; A O Cathain, L Largo-Ellis (0-1), R McHugh; B Horan, J McDade; C Duffy, M Glynn (0-4, 0-1 penalty), D MacBrien (0-8, 0-2 frees); P McKervey, (0-1), C Love (0-1), T Keenan

Subs: G Quigley (0-1) for Keenan (43), R McGovern for McKervey (44)

Yellow cards: Cavanagh (35), McNally (42)

Omagh CBS: O Grimes; C McBride (0-1), A Fox, R Hollywood; T Donaghy, L McBride, R Kennedy; L Gray, A Montgomery; S Garrity (0-1), D Fullerton (1-1, 1-0 penalty, 0-1 free), E Montgomery; R Donnelly, M Hayes (0-1), A McConnell

Subs: S McDonagh (1-2) for R Donnelly (24), B Conway for E Montgomery (52)

Yellow cards: Garrity (31)

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)

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