Just when it looked like Holy Trinity would regret eight second half wides, a wonderful Cormac Devlin through ball was collected by Michael McElhatton. For the second week running McElhatton showed nerves of steel to slam the ball to the net, deep into injury time to level the contest.
From the kick out there was still time for one last play and as Holy Trinity collected the kick out Ryan Quinn strode forward and calmly drilled over the winner, his fourth of the half. An unbelievable finish. The large Cookstown support roared as Maghera players sank to their knees.
All the drama in this game was left to the closing stages. A driving run from Eoin McIlvar was rewarded when Eoin Higgins punched his centre to the net with 56 minutes played for Maghera to lead 2-5 1-5. This looked to be the decisive score as Holy Trinity were poised to rue some wayward shooting and poor shot selection.
The game was played in difficult conditions throughout with driving rain and wind and playing with wind advantage St Pats opened the scoring inside the first minute Ciaran Chambers claiming a mark and converting. Holy Trinity came close to scoring a goal in the next attack. Ryan Quinn shot soccer style but his effort was well saved by Jack McCloy.
Cookstown enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but failed to trouble the umpires. Their opening score was worth waiting for however after good work from Cunningham who played a ball to Jack Martin who picked out the on running Conan Devlin who slammed to the net.
Both defensive systems were on top with some great blocks, tackles and interceptions
In the 14th minute full back Adam McLaughlin showed the forwards how to do it with a brilliant point off the outside of the boot for Maghera’s second point.
Ruairi McHugh continued to give Holy Trinity a platform at midfield but the final pass on too many occasions went astray. Liam Lawn did extend Cookstown’s advantage with a point.
The final ten minutes belonged to Maghera. Frees were converted by Higgins and Chambers to draw the game level as the influence of McEldowney,McGuckian and McPeake began to tilt the balance in the Derry’s school favour. Ciaran Chambers kicking the final point of the half a third for the Bellaghy man.
Cookstown with the elements at their backs started the half with two wides in the first minute. This was a sign of how the half was to play out. Disaster struck moments after Holy Trinity lost the ball in their own half. Conor Downey’s pass found Eoin Higgins and the Dungiven man left goalkeeper Ruairi Dillon grasping at straws.
McElhatton responded immediately for last year’s beaten finalists with a sweet strike. Clonoe’s Ryan Quinn kicked a point from a free before two further points from Quinn tied up the match by the midpoint.
The quality of the contest like the weather deteriorated. The game became scrappy and nerves were starting to play a part as passing and shooting particularly from Cookstown was poor.
The next scores was going to be vital and it arrived when Eoin Higgins fisted his second goal of the contest.
With Cookstown staring down the barrel they showed great character to force the turnover before Cormac Devlin’s pass found McElhatton in the 63rd minute. The goal tied the game and with time almost up Ryan Quinn’s point sealed victory and in the process knocked St Pats out of the competition for the second year in a row.
1. Ruairi Dillion ,2. Mark Donnelly, 3. Luke Cullen, 4. Conor Devlin, ,6.Brian Hampsey,7. Shea McCann, 8. Ruairi McHugh, 9. Jack Martin, 10. Conan Devlin (1-0), 11. Cormac Devlin. 12. Hugh J Cunningham, 13. Ryan Quinn(0-4 0-1 F),21 Jamie Concannon 14. Michael McElhatton (1-1),15. Liam Lawn (0-1)
Ryan Nelis for Martin, Karol McGuigan for Concannon, Tiernan McNally for Donnelly
JackMcCloy, Ruairi McErlain, Adam McLaughlin, Eamon Hasson, Tiarnan McCormick, Fionn McEldowney, Eoin McIlvar, Danny McDermott, Dara McPeake, Shea Birt, Johnny McGuckian, Eoin Scullion, Eoin Higgins, Ciaran Chambers, Conor Downey
Lee O’Neill for McErlain, Sean Boyd for Birt
Ref Paul Faloon