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Holy Trinity Clinch Final Place

Saturday 28.01.2023
Team Talk Mag
Football


 

Holy Trinity 1-10 1-9 St Patrick’s Academy

Holy Trinity College qualified for consecutive Mac Rory Cup finals after the Cookstown school edged East Tyrone rivals St Patrick’s Academy in a titanic semi final battle in Pairc Colmcille on Saturday in front of a crowd of more than three thousand.

This unique pairing saw several clubs with players in both sides and there was a distinct derby atmosphere which drew such a large crowd to Carrickmore.

The tussle saw the contest swing in one team’s favour and then the other which led to gripping excitement. The Academy got off to the better start as ace marksman Ronan Cassidy continued his excellent form with the opening score.

Darragh McGrath doubled the lead with a driving score from centre back before Karol McGuigan settled Cookstown nerves with a point on six minutes. Cassidy quickly responded to put the Academy in control once more.

Dungannon created the game’s first goal chance that forced Ruairi Dillon into a superb save from Finn Spence’s shot in the 10th minute. The Academy continued to dominate possession and a brace of Cassidy frees extended the lead to four by the mid point of the half.

Holy Trinity were beginning to wrestle control in the midfield with promptings from Ruairi McHugh aided by Conor Devlin and Shea McCann. Hugh J Cunningham converted a free and when Jack Martin’s free was followed up with a Shea McCann point the minimum separated the sides with twenty three minutes played.

Holy Trinity were finishing the half the stronger and shortly after the Academy were reduced to fourteen due to a black card they struck for the first goal. A fine passing move resulted in Jack Martin deflecting the ball into the path of Karol McGuigan who steered the ball into the net.  At half time Cookstown led 1-4 0-5.

The second half saw Holy Trinity maintain the momentum. Ryan Nelis hit the first score of the half in the opening minute,  a charging run from Ruairi McHugh minutes later saw him kicking the score of the game. Ronan Cassidy kicked a free for Dungannon  to provide much needed respite but Holy Trinity were still on top and when Conor Devlin , who was excellent throughout, landed a long range point the advantage was back to four.

With the game seemingly slipping away Dungannon needed a score and Finn Spence nearly provided it but his fine effort was well blocked by Dillon.  Shea McCann kicked his second point and when Jack Martin got his second Holy Trinity looked they had done enough.

However with 13 minutes remaining Ryan Donnelly gave Dungannon a lifetime. He received Spence’s pass to finish to the net. The Academy got a huge boost from that score and when Sean Hughes scored a nice point the game was back in the mix.  At the other end Jack Martin had an opportunity for a goal but was crowded out by the hardworking Dungannon defence.

The noise and excitement rose and when Ronan Cassidy escaped from Brian Hampsey with whom he was having a great battle, the margin was down to one as the game reached the closing stages.

Momentum seemed to have moved in the direction of Dungannon and when Sean Hughes received the ball on the wing he made no mistake to tie it up.

Holy Trinity attempted to reply but two efforts dropped short. Liam Lawn almost snatched it when he reacted quickest to a wayward free but his effort came back off the upright.

The tension was at fever pitch as the game entered 4 minutes of added time. With 62 minutes played Shea McCann fed Ryan Quinn. The saviour in the quarter final was having a quiet afternoon but he launched the ball high and over the bar from 30 metres. The Academy had one last chance but Holy Trinity defended resolutely and when Shane Hughes made a full length diving block to prevent the equaliser the turnover was picked up by Holy Trinity and referee Martin McNally sounded the final whistle.

A fantastic advertisement for Tyrone football, credit both schools and the clubs for both teams  wholeft everything on the pitch. Holy Trinity just about deserved the victory and can now plan for back to back finals in two weeks time.

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