St Ronan’s set up derby MacRory quarter-final

January 26, 2019

Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-final play off

St Ronan’s Lurgan 1-10 Patrician Carrickacross 1-7

HAD Luke Mulholland not dived full length to turn a Ryan Farrelly shot on to a post and to safety in the 50th minute, this Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-final play off in St Paul’s Lurgan might well have ended differently for the holders St Ronan’s.

The home side had been coasting for nearly 40 minutes of this game and, in spite of wayward shooting, had built up a 1-7 to 0-3 lead. Adam Loughran, my Player of the Match, had popped a neat pass over the top in the 38th minute for James McCormick to race on to and he rolled it left-footed into the right corner of the Patrician net.

However, that score had the opposite effect; it roused the visitors. Sean Clarke attempted a long range point from a free. It dropped short and was bundled out by Mulholland, but immediately punched back by Oisin O’Hanlon for a goal and points quickly followed from frees for Sean Jones (2) and Liam McDonald so that the score-line stood at 1-9 to 1-6 when Farrelly barged his way through.

It was a let off for St Ronan’s but Patrician closed in further with a good point from substitute Donnacha Swinburne in the 52nd minute.

However, that was the only score between Mulholland’s save and injury-time when Tiarnan Kelly played a short free to James McCormick to race through and punch a much needed Lurgan point. Each side wasted good openings, from general play and frees, during that period.

Overall though it would have been a smash-and-grab against the balance of play if Patrician had won it. St Ronan’s were the more composed team for the greater part of the game, creating plenty of chances, but shooting more wides than scores over the hour.

Loughran was a tower of strength throughout and his defence was only troubled during the last quarter by the long ball in. Up front James McCormick and Jack Conlon showed consistently and McCormick’s low centre of gravity caused the Patrician defence trouble.

Patrician’s sweeper helped cope with the pace of Lurgan’s inside line, but the Monaghan side was laboured in their build ups and coughed up possession too easily especially during the opening half. Sean Clarke picked up a lot of ball from kick-outs and general play, but the attack was all at sea until the goal from O’Hanlon sparked them to life.

Jack Conlon got St Ronan’s off to a fine start with a 2nd minute point. Jonathon Donnelly dropped a high point for Patrician in reply and Adam Loughran edged Lurgan ahead again with a long range points in the 4th minute.

But despite constant Lurgan prompting there were no further scores until a 16th minute free from Marc McAfee. Indeed wayward shooting meant that it took two late McAfee points to put them 0-6 to 0-2 clear at the break while Patrician were struggling to get anything going in attack.

That continued for the opening ten minutes of the second half, with McAfee pointing after 50 seconds and Kian Duffy adding an 8th Lurgan point in the 33rd minute after good approach work from Loughran and Conlon.

The game became a lot more interesting after the two goals, but St Ronan’s did enough to hold on and set up a quarter-final derby with St Patrick’s Armagh, the team they beat with an injury-time goal in last year’s semi-final in the Athletic Grounds.

St Ronan’s : L Mulholland, S Branagan, O McAliskey, G Downing, T Harbinson, M Magee, J Megoran, A Loughran (0-1), T Kelly, E McConville, D Loney (0-1), M McAfee (0-5, 0-4 frees), C France, J Conlon (0-1), J McCormick (1-2).
Subs : R Crawford for C France (40), SP McKernan for T Harbinson (45), E Kearney for J Conlon (0-1), N Domegan for D Loney (58).

Patrician : K Duffy, R Grimes, J Doogan, C McKeown, S Finn, S Hanratty, J McGarrell, L óg Murray, S Clarke, S Jones (0-2 frees), J McMahon (0-1), J McGeown, O O’Hanlon (1-0), R Farrelly (0-1), J Donnelly (0-1).
Subs : D Swinburne for J Donnelly (29), C Shacklelon for J McGeown (HT), L McDonald (0-1 free) for J McMahon (42)

Referee : Sean Hurson (Tyrone)