St Patrick's, Armagh bow out as MacRory Cup groups stages are complete
Danske Bank MacRory Cup Section C
St Patricks, Armagh 0-7 Holy Trinity, Cookstown 0-13
IT was all or nothing at Clonmore on Wednesday in the final MacRory Cup Section C game and it was Holy Trinity who came out on top to clinch second spot and send St Patricks, Armagh out of the competition.
Only two points separated the teams at the break, but early in the second half Armagh lost Tadhg Grimley to a straight red card and when they also had Padraig O'Keefe black-carded five minutes later they were in trouble.
Cookstown made the most of their two-man advantage to move five points clear and after that they kept their opponents at arm's length to set up a play-off date with St Patrick's, Cavan.
It was Armagh who looked the sharper team in the opening minutes as they established a 0-4 to 0-2 lead, with Dara McCloskey kicking a trio of points and O'Keefe also on target. Liam Lawn and Michael McElhatton were the Holy Trinity marksmen.
A superb score with the outside of the boot from Ryan Quinn narrowed the gap before efforts from Ruairi McHugh and Quinn again had the Tyrone school in front, Armagh losing defender Caolan Muldoon to a black card. McElhatton had the final say of the half from a free as Holy Trinity led 0-6 to 0-4.
Cormac Devlin opened the secon- half scoring in the 33rd minute and 60 seconds later referee Martin McNally dismissed Grimley for an off-the-ball incident. Quinn, who was Holy Trinity's best forward, registered again before O'Keefe was black-carded.
McCloskey and Conan Devlin exchanged points as did Jack Martin and Muldoon before a Quinn free left it 0-11 to 0-6 with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Holy Trinity made full use of that extra man in those crucial closing stages, with Devlin and Martin tagging on points for a result that saw them leapfrog over neighbours St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon and into second spot.
THE pathway through to the semi-final stages is now clear for the remaining 12 teams.
St Patrick's, Armagh; St Eunan's, Letterkenny; and St Ronan's, Lurgan have all been eliminated, while Holy Trinity failed to better St Mary's Magherafelt's scoring difference at the top of Section C.
Cookstown now face St Patrick's, Cavan in the play-offs in the first week of January, with the winner taking on St Patrick's, Maghera in a quarter-final.
St Patrick's Academy had been leading Section C before they lost their final game on Monday to St Mary's, Magherafelt. The Academy have ended up in third place in the group. They now face St Michael's, Enniskillen in the play-offs, with the winner from that taking on St Macartan's, Monaghan.
Holders St Mary's, Magherafelt will take on the winner from the play-off between the other two Monaghan schools. This is a repeat of last February's MacLarnon Cup final between Patrician, Carrickmacross and Our Lady's, Castleblayney.
Finally, the highest scoring team in the group stages, Omagh CBS, are in the quarter-finals awaiting a winner from the Newry derby between Abbey CBS and St Colman's.
The play-offs will take place between January 4 and 8, with the quarter-finals a week later.
There will be an open draw for the semi-finals after the last of the quarter-finals on Sunday, January 15.
The semi-finals are scheduled for dates between January 25 and 29 , with the final on February 12 in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
PLAY-OFFS (January 4-8)
1 St Michael's, Enniskillen v St Patrick's, Academy
2 Abbey CBS, Newry v St Colman's, Newry
3 Holy Trinity, Cookstown v St Patrick's, Cavan
4 Our Lady's, Castleblayney v Patrician High, Carrickmacross
QUARTER-FINALS (January 11-15)
St Macartan's. Monaghan v winner of 1
Omagh CBS v winner of 2
St Patrick's, Maghera v winner of 3
St Mary's, Magherafelt v winner of 4
SEMI-FINALS (January 25-29)
FINAL (Sunday, February 12 at the Athletic Grounds)