GAA Football

Loreto, Coleraine edge St Paul's, Bessbrook in Treanor Cup final

 Loreto, Coleraine celebrate Treanor Cup success
Séamas McAleenan

Loreto, Coleraine and St Paul’s, Bessbrook served up an excellent Danske Bank Treanor Cup final in Edendork.

There were some brilliant individual performances – Shay Magill pointing two 45m kicks and several other difficult frees into the second half breeze, Paul Rafferty was almost unmarkable during the opening half, the midfield duel between Jack Cunningham and Donal O’Kane and there were also several brilliant individual scores.

In hindsight each team played their best football into the stiff breeze and both managed to squander easier scoring opportunities with wind assistance. But the two Loreto goals during the second half made life difficult for Bessbrook and they simply fell just short of closing the gap between the teams near the end.

James Mullan set the tone for the game by fielding the throw-in and taking off on a solo-run to pop over the first point.

However, by the 16th minute, Loreto were 1-5 to 0-3 in arrears, the goal coming from a mistake as they carried the ball out of defence. A quick free later and Ethan McAfee was scrambling the ball off his line only for Shay Magill to sweep it home.

However, Paul Rafferty responded with a point and then a goal, after he carried the ball around two defenders and, off-balance, despatched it to the net.

The teams turned around with Bessbrook 1-6 to 1-5 ahead and the elements favoured Coleraine. Rafferty and Conor Kearney pointed to put them ahead but Magill equalised and then injured captain Dara Mooney entered the fray to stroke over a sublime point from the left wing.

Bessbrook were back in front by the 43rd minute when Donal O’Kane fielded a kick-out and drove through for a Loreto goal and a 2-9 to 1-10 scoreline. Magill and Lúc Mallon drew the teams level again before Conor Kearney found the net for Coleraine, and Ben Dillon added a point.

St Paul’s refused to back down and Magill, Paul McNally and Sean Boylan hit back with points as they closed in. However Conor Kearney’s point four minutes from the end gave Coleraine a little space to hold out and claim a first title at this level for 19 years.

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