Lismore Comprehensive captured the inaugural Danske Bank Ulster Colleges Irish News Cup, defeating local rivals St Paul’s in a thrilling final which yielded an incredible fourteen goals.
Played at the superbly maintained St. Paul’s GFC grounds at Taghnevan, this Year 9 final had everything. Apart from magnificent scores, there were near misses, brilliantly executed tackling and blocking and above all a high level of sportsmanship from both teams.
Lismore had topped their group with wins over De La Salle College, Belfast, Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon and a draw with Aquinas Grammar, Belfast. In the semi final the Craigavon boys continued their good form with a comprehensive victory over Monaghan school, Our Lady’s, Castleblaney.
St Paul’s also won their group with victories over Loreto College, Coleraine and Our Lady’s, Castleblaney while in the semi final they defeated Aquinas Grammar.
This final could have gone either way with Lismore dominating the early proceedings. They looked to have St. Paul’s in real trouble leading by 4-1 to 1-0 after the first quarter. However, St. Paul’s played their way back into the game with some tremendous possession football and reduced the deficit at half time to eight points. St.Paul’s continued to dominate proceedings in the second half and with seven minutes to go it looked as if the cup was on its way to Francis Street. However, the Lismore boys battled their way back into the game and overturned a three point deficit near the end to collect the trophy, a 58th minute penalty from Tír na nÓg player Cahal McGinty sealing the issue.
Lismore started the game in whirlwind fashion with a fantastic goal from Sean Toman. Sean, who had missed the semi final due to injury certainly justified his selection on this occasion. Another goal shortly after, from full forward and joint-captain Josh Megoran had St. Paul’s in trouble, but midfielder and captain Jack Conlon gave his side some hope when he shot to the net after a penetrating run through the Lismore defence. Full forward Megoran was wreaking havoc on the edge of the square and two more major strikes from the Wolfe Tones player saw Lismore forge ahead 4-1 to 1-0.
From then until half time, St. Paul’s played their way back into the game with a Daniel Hannon goal. Lismore’s only scores in this period were points from Cahal McGinty and Sean Toman leaving the score at half time 4-4 to 2-2 in favour of the Craigavon lads.
Although Lismore opened the scoring with a point from McGinty, St. Paul’s began to dominate at midfield and opened up the Lismore defence at ease, scoring five of the next six goals. When Daniel Hannon completed his hat-trick, ten minutes into the second half, his side was only three points behind. A minute later Ethan Kearney tied the game at 5-5 to 6-2. A Josh Megoran point edged Lismore ahead but St.Paul’s came back and a Jack Conlon penalty put them in front for the first time. Half back Curtis Hallisey, who was impressive throughout, ran the length of the field for a great point to put them three up and in sight of the winning post.
Some stern defending from Lismore’s Conor Curran, Tiernan Byrne and Brendan McMullan helped stem the tide and as the game entered its final stages, Lismore goaled when Cahal McGinty deflected a Josh Megoran shot to the net. With two minutes remaining and the game looking like it would go to extra time, Lismore were awarded a dramatic penalty and McGinty slotted home the resultant spot-kick to seal the victory.
This is Lismore’s second Ulster Colleges title this year, with the Year 10 team annexing the Dankse Bank Ennis Cup back in December. Ten of the boys who played that day against Lumen Christi from Derry in Ballinascreen were also on the victorious team last week. It was perhaps, the experience gained in the Ennis Cup final which saw the boys in green and blue over the line against St. Paul’s.
Lismore squad and scorers: Luke Mulholland, Eoin McAreavey, Niall McCorry, Conor Curran, Tiernan Byrne, Josh Bush (0-1), Brendan McMullan, Callum Fitzpatrick, Adam Henderson, Eamon Curran, Fionnbhar Hamill, Cahal McGinty (2-3), Odhran McMullan, Josh Megoran (3-1), Sean Toman (2-2), Ethan Mulholland, Ryan Harbinson, Conaill McCrory, Conor Foster, Ethan Henderson, Jordan Campbell, Cian O’Hara, Niall McPartlan, Kevin Breen, Ben Norton, Thomas Massey.