Hurling & Camogie

St Mary’s CBGS land Gallagher Cup at expense of St Patrick’s, Maghera

Finn Smyth’s two second-half goals put this game in Ballymena beyond doubt

St Mary's CBGS, Belfast
St Mary's CBGS, Belfast celebrate with the Danske Bank Gallagher Cup

Danske Bank Gallagher Cup final

St Mary’s CBGS, Belfast 4-18 St Patrick’s Maghera 1-11

A BRACE of goals early in the second half from Finn Smyth set St Mary’s on the road to victory in Ballymena on Friday.

The Glen Road outfit were ahead from the outset and didn’t relinquish their advantage over the course of the 50-plus minutes, though they saw their five-point lead slip before the break when Don Mulholland slotted home to ensure Maghera trailed by only 1-7 to 1-5 at the midway point.

Smyth’s double would firmly swing the pendulum in his side’s favour and a late strike from talisman Padraig Kelly ensured that St Mary’s would collect their third Ulster schools’ trophy of the 2023-24 campaign.

St Mary’s were quickest out of the traps and led through early points from Shea McGarry and Padraig Kelly.

A converted free from Donnacha Collins got Maghera up and running for the afternoon and Collins doubled his account from play, replying to a converted dead-ball from Kelly.

The opening goal arrived after eight minutes and fell to St Mary’s, with Shea McGarry firing low past Fionn Wallace to make it 1-3 to 0-2.

The sides equally traded four scores in the aftermath, Donnacha Collins hit an instant reply to the goal and then landed his fourth point of the half from range, but in between times Kelly converted his second free and Finn Smyth dropped an effort over the bar.

Adam McGahey extended his side’s advantage but with five minutes to go until the break a long ball up the line stuck for Don Mulholland, who took off towards goal before steering a low shot past Daire Gault and into the net to make it 1-6 to 1-4.

Both sides would register further points before the break courtesy of Jude Gamble and Collins.

St Mary’s extended their lead upon the resumption as captain Conall Dempsey was felled following Owen Elliott throwing the ball in and he dusted himself down to float over the resulting set-piece.

McGarry followed up with his first point and Dempsey landed a second free to open up a five-point advantage again.

Their second goal arrived in the 28th minute. Adam McGahey did well to slip a pass across to Finn Smyth and he intelligently bounced a shot into the ground and the net to open up a 2-10 to 1-5 lead.

Points were traded in the aftermath between McGahey and Donnacha Collins (free) before Finn Smyth conjured up his second goal in the space of five minutes.

The scorers of the opening two goals combined as McGarry laid the ball off to Smyth and he sent a low shot between the legs of Fionn Wallace into the net to put some daylight between the sides at 3-11 to 1-6.

Davin Hassan replied with a fine point for Maghera, but the St Mary’s lead was extended further with Kelly adding another two to his ever-increasing tally – one from a free and the other from range – and Adam McGahey also producing a super angled score.

Maghera were mainly reliant on the scores of Collins over the course of the afternoon. He ended up with a tally of eight points, four of which came from frees.

Hassan ensured his side reached double figures on the points tally but St Mary’s added their fourth goal in response in the 46th minute.

Smyth picked out club-mate Kelly at the edge of the square and he rifled low to the net to make it 4-15 to 1-10.

Talisman Kelly landed the last of his impressive 1-7 haul in the closing stages, while team-mates McGahey and Dempsey also added to their individual tallies. Cahair McDonnell added a consolation score for Maghera.

St Mary’s D Gault, O Marley, E Flynn, D Rainey, B McCaul, G Delaney, M O’Neill, J Gamble (0-1), C Dempsey (0-3, 0-2 frees), O Kennedy, F Smyth (2-1), R Mcilhatton, P Kelly (1-7, 0-4 frees), S McGarry (1-2), A McGahey (0-4)

Subs E Hughes for O Kennedy (47)

St Patrick’s F Wallace, C Boyle, D McKaigue, C Duggan, K Friel, D McEldowney, D McKenna, S McCormick, C McDonnell (0-1), D Collins (0-8, 0-4 frees), S O’Hara, J Conway, D Hassan (0-2), D Mulholland (1-0), R O’Loughlin

Subs O Burke for R O’Loughlin (40), J Bradley for D McKenna (47)

Referee: Owen Elliott (All Saints, Ballymena)