St Patrick’s Grammar School Armagh reached this year’s Rannafast Cup final – their first since 1980 – beating a strong Abbey CBS Newry side 1-07-1.05 in a pulsating encounter in Cullyhanna.
It was the Abbey men who powered into a 0.2-0.0 lead after ten minutes with two fine scores from their impressive attack.
The lively Caomh Agnew opened the scoring for the Armagh men, closely followed by a fine Cathaoir Hughes point making the score a draw at 0-2 each. Time after time McGrane, Murphy and McKee batted back the Abbey attack with some outstanding tackles and blocks.
The key score of the opening half came from midfielder Oisin Gribben, after a long pass from Brian Og McGuckin found Matas Rumsevicius on the edge of the square. Matas set up Gribben for a well finished goal.
With Matthew Daly and Ryan McQuade also to the fore, the Armagh team looked capable of further consolidating their advantage. Points from McGrane and McQuade ensured that they led at HT 1-4 to 0-2.
The Abbey started the second half with real intensity, producing some lovely attacking football. The Newry school had chances to equal the scoring, with Paul McGovern and Diarmuid O’Rourke looking dangerous in attack. A long testing ball into the heart of the Armagh defence, resulted in a goal mouth scramble leading to a penalty for the County Down men. Newry City and Irish league soccer star, McGovern made no mistake, powerfully placing the ball into the roof of the net leaving the score at 1-4 to 1-2 in favour of the Armagh side.
St Patrick’s goalkeeper, Padraig Finn was dominant throughout with his precisely placed kickouts working a treat to beat a strong Abbey press.
In the final quarter, the Abbey dominated possession but were continually thwarted by the St Pat’s rear guard, in particular Tiernan Moore, Ryan Dynes and Christopher Gildernew. Further scores were then exchanged between the two teams, leaving the score at 1-5 to 1-4 heading into the last ten minutes.
There was a nervy finish to the game as both teams knew a place in the Rannafast final was at stake. The Abbey CBS pressed in a desperate attempt to turn the tide, however the St Patrick’s Grammar side hit them on the counterattack adding two further points to the scoreboard, the last one a fine effort from Cathaoir Hughes far out on the wing.
The Abbey CBS had one final chance to steal victory when they were awarded a last play free kick which was lobbed high into the Armagh penalty area, however the outstanding James Daly plucked the ball from the sky to keep possession while referee sounded for the full-time whistle.
Final Score: SPGS 1.07 Abbey CBS 1.05