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History boys as St Ronan’s clinch MacRory Cup with victory over St Mary’s Magherafelt

St Ronan’s Lurgan 1-09 St Mary’s Magherafelt 1-07

St Ronan’s College Lurgan made history by winning their first MacRory Cup thanks to a hard-fought two-point victory over defending champions St Mary’s Magherafelt at the Athletic Grounds this afternoon (Monday).

Three short years in existence but the boys from Co Armagh thoroughly deserved their name etched into the famous trophy with a commanding second-half performance.

Trailing at half-time, it was a Ryan Meehan-inspired performance after the interval, as St Mary’s were left scrambling with desperate long balls in the final three minutes of the contest.

The game began at 90 miles per hour and it was St Ronan’s who made the fastest start – a penalty in the opening sixty seconds after a high, mis-hit, ball into the box was seemingly blocked with a Magherafelt foot.

It was a somewhat fortuitous award but Oisin Smyth wasn’t complaining as his kick sent the ‘keeper the wrong way.

And it was Smyth who notched the next score with his left from an acute angle, following some fantastic build-up play from midfielder Tiernan Kelly.

Magherafelt talisman Liam Quinn finally eased the nerves of the holders with a cooly taken right-footed effort, turning two Lurgan players inside out in the process.

Despite early dominance, St Ronan’s started to lose the battle in the middle of the park – some wayward kicking played its part too as the wind disrupted the rhythm of the game for large parts of the opening half.

Marauding half-back Conal Devlin then added another for St Mary’s; his ambitious effort from the right, when little else was on, reduced the arrears to two.

On 18 minutes, the referee was holding his arms out-stretched for a second time in the game, and if there was any doubt the first penalty, there was no question this time around. A blatant push on the back as Devlin honed in goal.

Daniel Bradley made absolutely sure of the resulting spot-kick as he slammed it low and to the ‘keeper’s right.

Adam Connolly added another point on 26 minutes to put his side two up for the first time.

A quick-fire Eoin McConville double drew the sides level again; a 14-yard free before gathering up the resulting kick-out for the easiest of points.

Tiernan McAteer though had the final say of the half, scoring his first of the game as the clock ticked into injury time.

The second half began as brightly as the first for the Co Armagh side, who pulled level within a minute – a huge effort from Ryan Meehan out on the right-hand side.

Eoin McConville added another free to put his side in front before the impressive Tiernan McCann pulled the sides level once more.

Tit-for-tat, it was another beautiful score for Meehan – who was really justifying the florescent green boots he chose to wear for the occasion. Daniel Bradley responded in kind for the Derry men before Meehan – who else – drew blood once again. It was a lead St Ronan’s weren’t going to surrender with 13 minutes left on the clock.

Mark McAfee announced his introduction to play within 30 seconds with a cooly executed point, to give his side what seemed like a commanding two-point lead with just seven minutes of normal time to play.

St Mary’s did manage to reduce the deficit to just a single score when Conal Devlin waltzed through, unchallenged, to tap over from 25 metres.

But just as the two-in-a-row chasing St Mary’s became desperate, their defence became somewhat leaky. A long ball in to Tiernan Kelly, who was now position on the edge of the square, resulted in a simple 14-yard free after he was unceremoniously shoved the ground.

Eoin McConville made no mistake with the subsequent free and the two-point gap meant St Mary’s final offerings were desperate goal-bound attempts, but even three successive 45’s at the death amounted the very little as the shriek of the referee’s whistle cued jubilant celebrations on and off the field as St Ronan’s became the history boys.

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