GAA Football

St Paul's out-Fox St Macartan's to land Rannafast Cup title

St Paul's celebrate after their win over St Macartan's in the Rannafast Cup final
Séamas McAleenan

Danske Bank Rannafast Cup final: St Paul's Bessbrook 1-7 St Macartan's Monaghan 1-6

A GOAL from substitute Tomas Fox in the 53rd minute of a tense Danske Bank Rannafast Cup final in the Athletic Grounds on Sunday gave St Paul's, Bessbrook their very first title at the grade.

Prior to that goal St Paul's looked as if they were going to rue several scoring chances that they had squandered when wind-assisted in the opening half. They went in on level terms at the break, 0-4 to 1-1, but should have been in a comfortable lead.

Bessbrook opened well with points from Gavin O'Rourke and Shea Loughran, but were then caught napping in the fifth minute when Jack McCannon was left free in sight of goal and the Monaghan forward buried the ball in the net.

Eoin Kane pointed to level the game while later in the half John McCrystal and Loughran swopped points.

Fergal Boylan had hard luck when he crashed a shot off the crossbar and things really looked to be going against Bessbrook when Conor Bennett picked up a black card on 28 minutes. By the time he returned in the second half, St Paul's had taken and lost the lead.

Kane's free put them ahead on the re-start but Killian Kearns replied with a free after St Paul's keeper Tom Beattie pulled off an incredible save to deny Darcy Foy.

Kane and Boylan tagged on scores for Bessbrook and McCannon had pulled back a point before the decisive goal arrived. St McCartan's goalkeeper Shane Clerkin could only punch a high ball from David Crilly and Thomas Fox was perfectly positioned to nudge it over the line with his first touch.

St Paul's were four up now, but it turned into a nervous finish for them when Conor Dunne picked up a second black card on 54 minutes and St McCartan's whittled the lead down to the minimum with three scores from John McCrystal.

However time ran out on St Macartan's and John Rafferty had steered Bessbrook to another milestone victory in the school's history.

St Paul's: T Beattie, C Bennett, C Dunne, G O'Rourke (0-1), O Bennett, D Coffey, A Reavey, D Crilly, D O'Callaghan, T Brown, E Kane (0-3, frees), K Reavey, S Loughran (0-2, 1 mark), F Boylan (0-1), E McKeever.

Subs: O Cunningham for O Bennett (36), F Ó Tuathaill for K Reavey (45), T Fox (1-0) for Brown (50), C Loye for Boylan (60 +1).

St McCartan's: S Clerkin, M McCaffrey, C Gallagher, K Keenan, S Corrigan, D Connolly, M Lynch, L McKenna, A Stewart, J McConnon (1-1), T Muhall, A Carey, D Foy, J McCrystal (0-4, 2 frees), K Kearns (0-1, free)

Subs: C McGorman for K Keenan (38), J McCaughey for K Kearns (50)