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Rian O'Neill stars as St Colman's prove too good for St Pat's in MacRory showdown

Justin Kieran of St Patrick’s, Armagh and Peter Fegan of St Colman’s, Newry Picture by Declan Roughan
From Sean O'Neill at QUB Arena

ST COLMAN’S, Newry have made it through to the last four of the MacRory Cup after they eventually wore down the challenge of St Patrick’s, Armagh last night at the QUB Arena.

A contest which was high on endeavour, but which had only occasional flashes of quality, was very evenly matched in the first half as the sides swapped scores.

Ronan Moore of St Pat’s opened the scoring after the ball was cleverly worked out to him, before the lively Aaron Gribben equalised for Colman’s.

Armagh edged ahead on 10 minutes when Matthew McGleenan pointed from a free and they went further ahead a minute later when Eoin Toal swung over a point.

The momentum was with St Patrick’s at this stage and they capitalised, when after a quick break, Toal worked his way in from the right wing and along the end line before squaring for Odhran Rafferty to convert from close range. 

 Two pointed frees from Rian O’Neill, who was undoubtedly the best player on show, brought Colman’s back into it – making the score 1-3 to 0-3.

The same player then maurauded forward to cut the gap to two, and to the minimum with another free with seven minutes of the half remaining.

Following a period of sustained pressure, St Colman’s then drew level a minute later when Gribben fired over.

Armagh got a much-needed score a minute before the half time whistle when Dillon Horsefield jinked in from the left and made it a one-point game – 1-4 to 0-6.

On the resumption, Armagh looked well placed to push on, as they had been the better side in the opening half.

However, after a very scrappy opening 10 minutes or so, the Newry lads began to gain the upper hand.

Points from Gribben and Rian O’Neill, with another confident strike, edged them ahead, before McGleenan leveled it up again with a free.

 On 13 minutes, O’Neill was on target yet again to make it 0-9 to 1-5, and shortly after, the decisive score arrived when Eoghan O’Donnell finished superbly after being expertly played in by O’Neill.

 Although St Pat’s were game to the finish, the winners added further scores from Cian McConville (2), Conor McCartan, Eoghan Byrne (2), Rian O’Neill (2).

 Matters got even worse for the Armagh boys when they lost Matthew Hosty, to a black card followed by a red – having already received a yellow.

 He had been involved in a pushing and shoving match with Jack McCartan throughout the second half, and eventually walked for a blatant pulldown on his opposite number.

 The nine-point winning margin did not flatter St Colman’s who overall had been the more disciplined side throughout, and in Rian O’Neill they possess a star in the making.

For Armagh, McGleenan, Ronan Moore, Eoin Toal, Justin Kieran and Dillon Horsefield were impressive throughout but their team were a clear second best on the evening.

St Patrick’s Armagh: C Duffin; C Byrne, M McGleenan (0-3 1f), J Rice; D Rafferty, A Austin, M Hosty; R Moore (0-1), C McGeary; D Horsefield (0-1), O Rafferty (1-0), E Toal (0-2); S Muldoon, S McKeown, J Kieran

St Colman’s Newry: M Magill; L Brown, S McCarthy, C Killen; F McElroy, M Branniff, P Fegan; C O’Neill, T Travers; R Garvey, Rian O’Neill (0-9 8f), E O’Donnell (1-0); J McCartan, C McConville (0-2), A Gribben (0-3); Sub: Eoghan Byrne (0-2)

Ref: B Cassidy (Derry)

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