GAA Football

St Louis' Ballymena edged out in All-Ireland final

A dejected Conal Doherty-Cunning sits on the Semple Stadium turf after St Louis’, Ballymena’s All-Ireland final defeat to Abbey CBS yesterday
Seamas McAleenan

Masita Paddy Buggy Cup final: Abbey CBS, Tipperary 2-19 St Louis’, Ballymena 2-13 (after extra-time)

TWO refereeing decisions in the 73rd minute of an exciting Masita Paddy Buggy Cup final proved crucial as Abbey CBS edged out St Louis’, Ballymena in Thurles to claim the All-Ireland ‘B’ title.

Ciaran Elliott slipped his marker on the wing and had a clear run on goal. Referee Cathal McAllister, however, called play back to award St Louis’ a free that James McNaughton sliced wide from the acute angle. That would have tied the teams on 1-14 to 0-17.

Instead, from the puck out Josh Ryan took possession and looked to have taken too many steps in getting his clearance to Kieran Breen, who pointed from 60 metres for the Tipperary town school.

After Ryan, a towering presence at centre half-back, had added another point, the game finished in a flurry of three goals.

Daire Egan, who had just returned to the action after being substituted in the second half of ordinary time, fired in the first for Abbey.

But Keelan Molloy then engineered the opening for Ronan Graham to deflect home his second goal with 90 seconds remaining.

Egan then worked his way up the sideline to the right-hand corner flag and progressed along the end-line before placing Shane Power to shoot home.

It was an emotional ending for Power, the Galtee Rovers forward, whose sister died last week.

St Louis’ manager Colm Morgan was full of praise for his team after a pulsating 80 minutes.

“I am really proud of the boys. They put in such an effort – Daniel Martin, Sean Duffin, Seaan (Elliott), Ciaran (Elliott), Conal (Doherty-Cunning) up front, all of them.

“All we needed was the rub of the green, and we would have taken it. It was probably a cracking game to watch, but we are just so disappointed as we know it’s one that got away on us.

“There certainly wasn’t six points between the teams, but that is what the score-board says.”

St Louis edged an evenly-contested opening half with Graham’s goal, kicked home after Ciaran Elliott had taken two players out of the action with a clever turn.

That put the Mageean Cup champions 1-3 to 0-3 ahead and they held that advantage at half-time, 1-6 to 0-6.

Both teams used sweepers for most of the game and played ball into the corners where the pace of the Elliott cousins and Doherty-Cunning caused Abbey the most problems.

During the third quarter, St Louis’ hit two spells of five minutes each when they shot three successive wides, and these were crucial as Abbey closed in to draw level at 0-13 to 1-10 in the 52nd minute.

Free-taker Rian Doody was the key player for the Tipperary team during that spell with five pressure scores, four of them from frees.

With no more scores for the rest of the second half, the game went into extra-time and again Doody took three more scores in the first period, two from play, while Eoin O’Neill and James McNaughton kept St Louis’ in touch at 1-12 to 0-16 at the turnover.

There was a point for each side before the key decisions in the 73rd minute, but after that Abbey were in the strongest position to take their third title.

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