Omagh CBS see off Dungannon to retain MacRory Cup

MacRory Cup Final: Omagh CBS 1-18 St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon 1-12

Omagh CBS captain Callum Daly lifts the Danske Bank MacRory Cup
Omagh CBS captain Callum Daly lifts the Danske Bank MacRory Cup after defeating St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon Photo by Andrew Paton/Press Eye

HIGH scoring and some high drama as Omagh CBS remained High Kings of Ulster Colleges football with this ultimately convincing win over their Tyrone rivals.

It may have been a freakish goal from midfielder Charlie Donnelly which decisively swung this game in the Brothers’ favour but the Hogan Cup-holders were the better side over the hour.

Indeed there was an element of fortune to Dungannon’s goal too, which revived this contest in the final quarter, but the Academy will rue not converting more of their goal chances before the break.

So Omagh are champions again in the centenary campaign of MacRory Cup football, as they were for the first time when the competition celebrated its half-century in 1974.

The only unbeaten side remaining this season, they rarely looked like losing that record, with their defiant defence, marshalled by ‘man of the match’ Brian Gallagher at full-back, making a series of blocks and interceptions to restrict the Academy. The Dromore clubman also forayed forward to score a point in each half.

Omagh’s forwards did take some time to function, notably Ruairi McCullagh, a star last year for Omagh, who started unsurely with a couple of wides, and the Academy twice took the lead, but the Loughmacrory lad did open his account in the 10th minute, followed by a great score from his colleague Niall McCarney.

Omagh full back Brian Gallagher runs with the ball
Omagh full back Brian Gallagher runs with the ball away from Conall Sheehy of St Patrick's Academy Dungannon Photo by Andrew Paton/Press Eye

While Omagh had six starters from last season’s successes, Dungannon were still deprived of an important injured duo, namely captain Fiachra Nelis and Sheehan Fay.

Even so, they posed problems – unfortunately for the Academy they missed the first of several goal chances, when full-forward Finn Spence caught a wayward shot from stand-in skipper Sean Hughes and evaded the goalkeeper but then shot high and wide of the nets.

Minutes later the same Dungannon pair combined, this time deliberately, Hughes finding Spence, but Omagh goalkeeper Oisin Watson denied the Clarke’s clubman.

The third wasted goal opportunity came to Lorcan Hegarty, who was found in room on the left but screwed his shot across the face of goal.

In contrast, McCullagh had set his sights right and began to find room away from the attentions of Luke Neeson, converting a mark, and Jack Law fired in a shot which Naoise Quinn tipped over his bar.

Quality scores from Davin McKeown and Hughes kept Dungannon in close contention, but McCullagh then added two more points from play to give Omagh a 0-9 to 0-6 half-time lead.

They quickly built on that, opening up a five-point gap, before wing-back Conor Holmes, son of school principal and former Tyrone star Collie, pounced to palm the ball to the net after the Omagh keeper couldn’t hold onto a fisted effort from Luke Neeson.

When Holmes reduced the gap to the minimum after taking a catch on the run it seemed that the momentum had swung, but Omagh responded like champions.

That man Gallagher stepped forward to put them back in front and although Dungannon levelled through Hughes and impressive centre back Matthew Quinn it was Omagh who took control of the closing stages.

Liam Og Mossey had an excellent second half and the Gortin lad scored a point and a mark – either side of that Donnelly goal.

The Trillick midfielder’s shot seemed to be heading just over the bar but, with the bright sun in Naoise Quinn’s eyes, the ball dropped into the net.

Suddenly five down again, 1-15 to 1-10, Dungannon still showed spirit and grabbed scores, but couldn’t get the goal they needed to really threaten, with substitute Ross Daly’s added time shot stopped on the line by Blaine Lynch.

West proved best in the end in this all-Tyrone contest, and Omagh must now take on the best of the west when they face the Connacht champions St Gerard’s, Castlebar on the All-Ireland stage.

Omagh CBS: O Watson; B Lynch, B Gallagher (0-2), S McCann; N Farry, C Daly (capt.), M Corcoran; E Donaghy (0-1), C Donnelly (1-2); O Teague, R McCullagh (0-6, 0-1 mark, 0-1 free), J Law (0-1); N McCarney (0-1), P Dillon (0-1), L Og Mossey (0-4, 0-1 mark).

Substitutes: A McGurren for Dillon (48); J Edgar for Teague (57); M Howe for McCarney (59)

St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon: N Quinn; O O’Neill, C Morgan; L Neeson, M Quinn (0-1), P McGeary, C Holmes (1-1); S Hughes (capt.) (0-4, 0-3 frees), D O’Neill; L Hegarty, C Sheehy (0-1), D McKeown (0-3); C McCool (0-1), F Spence, L McGeary.

Substitutes: D Devlin for Hegarty (h-t); J Mulgrew (0-1) for D O’Neill (41); R Daly for P McGeary (60); P McLernon for McCool (60).

Referee: Paul Faloon (Down).