ST.PETERS, who have been a model of consistency since they climbed from the Third Division at the end of last season, will now face the daunting task of playing hot favourites Killeavey in the Intermediate Championship final following their replay defeat of Wolfe Tones last Saturday night.
The Whites were good value for their five points victory, they performed a lot better than when the sides met in their drawn semifinal last weekend. Yet in hindsight with the Tones in front by a point on 20 minutes the awarding of a penalty to the winners, which was hotly contested by the Derrymacash men, turned the game on its head and provided the Freecrow side with the platform for victory.
Ironically it took Whites man of the match Niall McConville two attempts to convert the spot kick, his initial effort was parried by Ciaran Murray in the Tones goal, but the former Armagh Minor made no mistake with the follow up. Eamon McCann was forced to retire from the action with an injury as well as the influential Tones midfielder Johnny McCarron. As a result of this the Division One side lost some of their shape and eventually the game.
The first half was a low scoring affair, it started with a sublime 45 conversion from St. Peters defender Emmett Haughian, but it was the Tones who took control of the first quarter with points from James Lavery and two from their most impressive attacker on the night Sean Smyth. Darren Moore played very well for the Whites and he pulled a score back for his side on 16 minutes and McConville levelled the game at 3-3 a minute later. Smyth converted for the Tones in the 22nd minute, to put the ‘cash men back in front, but following Niall McConville’s crucial goal the Whites were never headed again.
Both sides found it difficult to gather momentum considering the stop start nature of the game, with a Hugh emphasis being placed on the hand pass and over carrying by the official in charge. The real difference between the teams was the winners ability to break quicker from defence than their opponents, particularly through the pace of the impressive Sam Marshall down the flanks. On the night the Freecrow half back went close to being his teams best player. With the Whites two in front at the break they pulled four clear by 36 minutes with scores from Darren Moore and McConville.
Adam McKeever pulled a point back for the Tones to put just three between the sides. Moore for the Whites and John Toal for the ‘cash men swapped points to maintain the status quo. Six minutes before the end a foul on Jason Greene allowed Toal to put the Tones just two behind, but it was St Peters who finished the stronger with two Niall McConville scores which were supplemented by a superb strike from Darren Moore from the right hand touch line.
On this occasion the Whites fared better in the midfield sector with Paul Brady and Aaron Findin on top, and although it could be some time before the Freecrow side reach their best considering the age of some of their players, they have nothing to fear on Sunday week against Killeavey on a pitch which will suit their brand of football to tee.
Although the Tones will be disappointed having lost to their local rivals, they should be commended for the resolve they showed at the end of what has been a disappointing season for the Derrymacash club.
As for St Peters they continue to improve and indeed impress, their plans to shackle Steven McDonnell in the final will be put in place over the next week, but they should have enough confidence in their own scoring power to cause the favourites problems of their own. It should be a very interesting decider. The Whites also have a decent bench, David Wilson, Drew Ginessi and Ciaran McCavigan were all brought into the action last Saturday night and it’s refreshing to see a Whites panel bulging with potential starters. The Freecrow men certainly could not be ruled out of a league and championship double.
For the moment though, the focus will be on the looming action at the Morgan Athletic Grounds.