Corn Mhic Pharthaláin/ Mc.Farland Cup/Year 10 Ulster Colleges Hurling
Final: Our Lady and Saint Patrick’s College, Knock vs.St.Patrick’s, Keady
Team: Dillon O’Neill, Conor Mc.Gleenon, Ciaran Monan (Captain), Chris Shannon, Tom Murray, Joe Watson, Gareth Henderson, Declan Fowler, Lorcán Mc.Caughey, Ryan Loughran, Aidan Mc.Manus, Matthew Crozier, Eoin Coulter, Patrick Falls, Seán Blaney.
Substitutes: Euan Byers for Conor Mc.Gleenon
Substitutes not used:
Caolán Arthurs, Huw Flynn, Conor Mc.Lornan, Conor Lally, Conor King.
Absent due to illness: Dónal Óg Rooney
We came into the final unbeaten. In the qualifying blitz we had convincing wins over St. Colman’s, Newry, St. Louis, Ballymena and a narrow victory over our eventual final opponents, St.Patrick’s, Keady. Clearly, our group at the blitz was by far the strongest!
In the quarter-final we accounted for St. Patrick’s, Dungannon and in the semi-final we had a handsome win over Loreto, Coleraine. In neither of those games were we stretched, but we were well aware that the same was true of Keady, who had beaten Rathmore and Ballymena by large margins.
The final was fixed mid-way between the two schools, at Aghagallon, County Antrim.
Keady were quick to settle and had 1-3 on the scoreboard before we got going. We then scored three points in a row to get ourselves back into contention. The sides swapped scores and then Keady hit their purple patch in the game, scoring another two goals and leading after 20 minutes by a clear 9 points, 3-4 to 0-4.
In adversity character and courage are required and our players knew that when the challenge came, they would have to re-double their efforts. Mr.Kane was delighted to see the players bond as a team and fight their way back into the match. Ryan Loughran took a great point and Eoin Coulter rounded his man to head straight for goal before being hauled down around twenty yards out from goal. Lorcán Mc.Caughey, who by now was lording it in midfield, looked for the signal from the line that let him know it was time to shoot for goal. The Keady keeper had no chance with the speed and power of the shot. Game on!
Half-time was approaching when the persistance of our full forward line was rewarded again. Patrick Falls was causing havoc for the Keady backs and keeper and both he and Eoin Coulter were involved in the move that led to Seán Blaney depatching the goal. Half-time score 2-5 to 3-4!
In the second half, we played with the wind at our backs and were soon dominating play. There was a determination about our work which meant every Keady poc was under pressure. Scores were hard to come by, however, and for the first ten minutes or so the match was in the balance. Then Lorcán Mc.Caughey went on a superb run and slammed a great shot into the far corner of the net to give us the lead for the first time, An Cnoc 3-5, Keady 3-4.
The Armagh men would not roll over, however. They were a strong unit and came back at us over the last ten minutes. But for some great defensive work from Tom Murray, Captain Ciaran Monan and Joe Watson, who did a great job at full-back in the second half, we were in trouble. Declan Fowler took a score, Lorcán put over a difficult free and Seán Blaney scored the point of the day to put two points between the teams going into the last five minutes.
Keady took a point to leave the minimum margin and it was backs to the wall for everyone to secure the victory for the College. All the boys courage and reserves of skill and nerve were needed for this win against a team physically our superior and certainly our equal hurling-wise. That is what makes it among the most satisfying victories in the history of College hurling. An Cnoc’s name goes on the Mc.Farland Cup for the third time (2003, 2009 and 2012) and this was without doubt the most memorable final.
Mr.Kane would like to thank all the players for their efforts, including Dónal Óg Rooney, a star player who was ill for the final. Great credit also goes to Mr.Murray and Mr.O’Neill, who gave invaluable help, and to all the parents who came along to the final, especially Mr.Crozier who sent in the excelent photographs.
Half-time score: An Cnoc 2-5, An Céideadh 3-4
Final score: An Cnoc 3-8, An Céideadh 3-7
Scorers: Lorcán Mc.Caughey 2-5 (1-3 f), Ryan Loughran 0-1, Declan Fowler 0-1, Seán Blaney 1-1.