Danske Bank MacRory Cup
Group D, round three
St Ronan’s, Lurgan 1-10 St Paul’s, Bessbrook 1-10
AN injury-time point from St Paul’s, Bessbrook captain Aidan Lynch in Pearse Óg, Armagh wasn’t enough to keep his team in the Danske Bank MacRory Cup, although after 54 minutes they looked on course to send their north Armagh neighbours St Ronan’s, Lurgan out of action before the Christmas break.
St Paul’s started the game well with points from Shea Loughran and Fearghal Boylan (two) to put them 0-3 to 0-1 up after 12 minutes.
However, St Ronan’s fired over four of the five points scored in the second quarter, including two from James Austin.
Lurgan went 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at the start of the second half with a third point from Tom Lavery, before the game seemed to swing away from them.
A goal from Alan Reavey, two points from Boylan and one each from David Crilly, Shane McCabe and Loughran put Bessbrook 1-9 to 0-6 ahead with 50 minutes gone.
Máitiú McGibbon started the Lurgan claw back with a point before Cohen Henderson and McGibbon closed the gap to a goal as added time beckoned.
James Austin then hit a levelling goal right on 60 minutes and a minute later Caomhán Toland edged them ahead only for Lynch’s late score to deny St Ronan’s outright victory.
The journey has ended for another year for St Paul’s, as it did earlier in the week for St Patrick’s, Armagh; St Michael’s, Enniskillen and Holy Trinity, Cookstown.
Meanwhile, St Ronan’s would seem to be lined up to play Abbey CBS in the first week of January unless Patrician, Carrickmacross can upset the form-book against Omagh CBS in Garvaghey on Saturday.
With just that one game remaining, the pathway to the final is clear for almost all the 12 remaining teams.
Only a win for Patrician will upset the finishing order in Group D. Having beaten both St Paul’s and St Ronan’s fairly comfortably, the holders have to be fancied to get at least the draw they need to top the group and avoid a play-off in the first week of January.
Whoever tops Group D will be playing the winners of the play-off match between between St Colman’s, Newry and Our Lady’s, Castleblayney.
The other play-off definitely confirmed is 2021 champions St Mary’s, Magherafelt against St Patrick’s, Cavan, with the winner of that facing St Patrick’s, Maghera in the quarter-finals.
The other schools through to the quarter-finals are St Patrick’s, Dungannon and newcomers St Joseph’s, Donaghmore.
The Academy will face either St Macartan’s, Monaghan or the third-placed team in Group D. At the moment Patrician occupy that seat, but if they win today (v Omagh) they will move into top spot.
Abbey CBS will face the second-placed team in Group D (St Ronan’s or Omagh CBS if they lose today) with the winner then facing St Joseph’s, Donaghmore in the quarter-finals.
St Ronan’s J Austin 1-2, T Lavery 0-3, M McGibbon 0-2, R McAlinden, C Henderson and C Toland 0-1 each.
St Paul’s A Reavey 1-0, F Boylan 0-4, S Loughran 0-2, B Watters, D Crilly, S McCabe and A Lynch 0-1 each
Danske Bank MacRory Cup
Play-offs ( Wednesday, January 3 – Saturday, January 6)
PO1 St Macartan’s, Monaghan v D3
PO2 D2 v Abbey CBS, Newry
PO3 St Mary’s, Magherafelt v St Patrick’s, Cavan
PO4 Our Lady’s, Castleblayney v St Colman’s, Newry
Quarter-finals (Tuesday January 9 – Sunday, January 14)
QF1 St Patrick’s, Maghera v PO3 Winner
QF2 St Patrick’s, Dungannon v PO1 Winner
QF3 St Joseph’s, Donaghmore v PO2 Winner
QF4 D1 v PO4 Winner
Semi-finals (Tuesday, January 23 – Sunday, January 28)
QF1 Winner v QF4 Winner
QF3 Winner v QF2 Winner
Sunday, February 11