GAA Football

Goals prove crucial as St Colman's edge out Newry rivals Abbey CBS to book MacRory Cup quarter-final spot

Aaron O'Neill from St Colman's College holds off the Abbey's Ciaran Tiernan during in the MacRory Cup play-off at Páirc Esler on Thursday Picture: Noel Moan
Shaun Mahoney at Páirc Esler

Danske Bank MacRory Cup play-off: St Colman’s, Newry 3-8 Abbey CBS 1-7

ST COLMAN’S College have reached the last eight of the MacRory Cup after defeating Newry rivals Abbey Grammar CBS in a fiercely contested battle.

St Colman’s possessed that little bit more composure in front of the posts, with the two O’Neills, Callum from Clan na Gael and Aaron from Crossmaglen, playing starring roles.

It was a big crowd at Páirc Esler on Thursday afternoon as the old rivalry was renewed but the scoreline is quite harsh on the Abbey.

The CBS side did much of the earlier pressing but it was Aaron O’Neill who gave St Colman’s the lead with their first attack.

Abbey replied with a scrappy goal from Burren’s Donagh Murdock after loose play around the Blues defence. It was a lively contest as, with only 10 minutes gone, a penalty was awarded to St Colman's when Mark McSwiggan and Ciaran Tiernan combined to take down Callum O’Neill.

It was the Aaron O'Neill who converted from the spot but Finn Donnelly’s impressive 35-metre free had the sides level with 13 minutes played.

A brace of points from the impressive Callum O’Neill edged St Colman’s ahead and namesake Aaron almost bagged a second goal but Aodhan Gorman pulled off a great save to concede only a point.

It wasn’t all comfortable for the Violet Hill side as the Abbey created chances with Jamie Powell and Sean Hamill trying to engineer something. Abbey midfielder David Ruddy narrowed the gap with a point, but only after Hamill was denied a goal by St Colman’s keeper Niall Rice.

It continued to be a tight and entertaining battle in the second half with all substitutes making an impact. Patrick Ruddy pointed for the College after Cormac O’Reilly (free) had extended their lead but Abbey cut the lead to the minimum with points from substitute Gerard Mallie, Murdock and the lively Jamie Powell. His brother Rory fired over an equalising point leaving an exciting final ten minutes.

Aaron O’Neill’s two converted frees steadied St Colman’s nerves but the Abbey had been moving the ball better and more twists were expected. Jamie Powell (free) made it a one-point game and they had chances to equalise but failed to convert their chances. And with goalkeeper Aodhan Gorman pushing outfield St Colman’s landed two additional time sucker-punch goals from Callum O’Neill and substitute Ruddy to secure their quarter-final place.

St Colman’s scorers: C O’Neill (1-3), A O’Neill (1-3, 1-0 penalty), P Ruddy (1-1), C O’Reilly (0-1 free).

Abbey scorers: D Murdock (1-1), J Powell (0-2, 0-1 free), R Powell (0-1), G Mallie (0-1), D Ruddy (0-1), F Donnelly (0-1 free).