St Ronan's win repeat of 2018 MacRory Cup final to reach knock-out stages
Group C: St Ronan’s, Lurgan 2-9 St Mary’s, Magherafelt 0-10
GOALS from substitute Ethan Kearney in the 53rd and 55th minutes settled the destination of the points from this game in Donaghmore, which was a repeat of March’s final.
The first goal saw the Lurgan sub palm James McCormick’s cross to the net at the end of a smart move started in their own half and two minutes later the ball broke kindly for him to smash home from close range and put St Ronan’s through to a play-off at the end of January.
Yet, it could so easily have been Magherafelt who took that path.
St Ronan’s had a good start and went four points up inside the opening 20 minutes, the pick of them the final one from Diarmuid Loney.
But from then until the break it was all Magherafelt. Ciaran O’Neill smashed a 22nd minute penalty off the under-side of the crossbar, but to safety, before the Convent hit five points in succession to lead 0-5 to 0-4 at the break. There were two each for Dominic McAteer and Ben McErlean and the pair added a point apiece on the re-start to give St Mary’s a 0-7 to 0-4 lead.
Now it was St Ronan’s turn and Diarmuid Loney, Jack Conlon and James McCormick hit three points in three minutes to tie the teams. Padraig Mitchell and Ryan Lennox replied for St Mary’s before super sub Kearney grabbed the limelight and put the game safe.
St Mary’s have finished third in the group and will face Abbey CBS in next week’s play-off irrespective of how the Newry derby finishes today.
Group C: Omagh CBS 4-17 St Mary’s CBGS 0-7
THERE was no stopping table-toppers Omagh CBS in MUSA yesterday as they tore St Mary’s CBGS apart in the opening half and led by 3-10 to 0-0 at the break.
The elements and pride pushed the Belfast side on for the second half and Matthew Donnelly and Tomas Gillan shot two points each, but in reality there was little solace for the management as they prepare for next week’s eliminator against another Tyrone school, St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon.
Before the throw-in Omagh were already through to the Danske Bank MacCormack Cup semi-finals, where St Michael’s, Ennikillen should be conformed as their opponents later this afternoon.
Mark Hayes pounced for the first goal and that was quickly added to by Rory Kennedy with the points totting up all the time. The third goal came from a high punt into the area that came off a defender and ended in the net.
After the break, Omagh remained in command and brought in fresh legs to stretch the Glen Road side further. Ross Slevin scored the fourth goal in the 46th minute.
St Colman’s, Newry v Abbey CBS (Friday, Páirc Esler, 2.30pm)
THREE more last round games in the group stages take place today with everyone trying to avoid the elimination games next week.
The Newry derby in Páirc Esler has become more or less a dead rubber after St Michael’s, Enniskillen comfortably defeated St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon on Wednesday.
Abbey CBS cannot get off the bottom of the table even if they achieve a pride-saving victory, while St Colman’s will only move out of second place in the group if they manage to win by a margin of 30 points or more.
I doubt if St Colman’s are really worried whether or not they get another couple of games in the MacCormack Cup. They are already assured of a play-off game in Páirc Esler at the end of January.
Therefore I would expect ‘the College’ to run their bench against the Abbey, who desperately need to get a morale boost before they face St Mary’s, Magherafelt in a play-off. However local bragging rights means that nothing will be given or taken easily.
Group B: St Patrick’s, Cavan v St Macartan’s Monaghan (Friday, Clones 1.30pm)
CAVAN'S draw with their Maghera namesakes has more than likely rejuvenated the Breffni boys ahead of this afternoon’s clash with St Macartan’s, Monaghan in Clones.
At the moment Cavan sit bottom of the group and need a win from this game to put a little pressure on both Holy Trinity and St Macartan’s in their final games with Maghera on Sunday and Tuesday respectively.
A draw wouldn’t be good enough as they would still remain bottom assuming that Maghera can pick up at least two points from those two games.
The main thing for Finbar O’Reilly and his management team in that draw with Maghera on Tuesday was the improvement in their performance from the Cookstown game.
They were hungrier, better organised and more confident in how they went about their business. But they did concede three very late points to let a victory slip from their grasp.
Monaghan grabbed 2-2 in the last five minutes of a tight game with Holy Trinity last Tuesday to turn a two-point deficit into a 2-8 to 0-8 win. Prior to that they laboured through the game.
Anything could happen, but Cavan need the win and might just get it.
Group D: St Patrick’s, Armagh v Patrician, Carrickacross (today, Crossmaglen 2.30pm)
THERE is the possibility that Armagh or Carrickmacross could still end up in play-offs if they lose their clash in Group D in Crossmaglen.
St Patrick’s, however, have been very impressive in their games to date and seem to be building on their run to last season’s semi-final with a good mix of Armagh and east Tyrone players.
Patrician have been struggling to find form. They lost to St Eunan’s in the opening game after scoring the opening two goals and then were under real pressure to hold on against St Paul’s, Bessbrook despite hitting the net three times.
For the past couple of seasons they have been able to hit points from all angles on a regular basis, but a total of 12 from the first two games is really not enough.
Armagh need at least a draw. If they can prevent goals, they have the ability at the other end to pick off enough scores to go through to the MacCormack Cup semi-finals.