THE smile on the faces of each and every one of Holy Trinity Colleges McDevitt Cup panel told its own story, as the final whistle sounded in the Morgan Athletic Grounds Armagh, last Wednesday, writes Jason Quinn.
The Cookstown School made history capturing the only Ulster title the school had previously failed to win in their existence, with an impressive eight point win at the expense of Cavan School Breifne College.
Truth be told this game could have been over as a contest in the opening fifteen minutes had it not been for Holy Trinity’s wastefulness in front of goal, but the Cookstown College boosted by no fewer than ten men from Loughshore clubs Moortown and Ardboe, stuck to their game plan and finally by the end had put some gloss on the scoreboard. Credit must also go to the Cavan School as they fought to the end exerting serious pressure on Holy Trinity’s livewire forward line.
Breifne opened the scoring courtesy of a free kick from Martin Gaffney on the 5th minute with Holy Trinity having to wait until the tenth minute for their opening score through a Daniel Quinn free, before Caolan Mallaghan and Shane Mckeown opened their accounts for the afternoon, with Quinn then tagging over another free kick.
An unusual mix up in a well-disciplined Holy Trinity back line resulted in the Cavan College drawing level by the 17th minute when Bernard Gaffney ripped the back of the net but that was as good as it got for them in the first half as Holy Trinity regained momentum, opening up a five point lead by the short whistle.
Shane McKeown got amongst the scores again before a free from the influential David Mulgrew, who then through hard work and unselfishness set up Jamie Devlin for the final two scores of the half. Breifne College came out all guns blazing in the second half reducing the deficit to two by the eighth minute, with scores from Paddy Cahill, Luke Molloy and another from Gaffney. Indeed had it not been for Gaffney’s poor efforts from free kicks in particular a 13yrd free his team may have found themselves in the lead.
As in all their games in the lead up to the final, Holy Trinity remained composed and when Manus Teague Found Mulgrew with a pass he offloaded to Daniel Quinn who made no mistake in firing to the back of the net. Breifne also refused to lie down and on the 12th minute it took an unbelievable save from Michael Donnelly to deny Gaffney, pushing his shot out for a ‘45’, with Eoghan Cooney popping over from the ball played in from the resultant ‘45’.
Again in the next attack it took another mighty save from the very reliable Michael Donnelly in the Cooks town Schools nets to again deny Gaffney the opportunity of a goal. As the game entered the final quarter Holy Trinity began to exert more pressure and the hardworking David Mulgrew scored a fine individual fisted point before been denied a goal with Brefine’s Mark Quigley making a fine save of his own.
Holy Trinity kept plugging away and after a few missed chances, up steps Moortown’s Daniel Quinn again as the white haired Loughshore man grabbed his second goal of the day putting his side seven clear. As the game headed towards injury time Holy Trinity were awarded a penalty after a foul on goal scorer Quinn but the resultant spot kick from Mulgrew was well saved by young Quigley in the Breifne Goal, before Mulgrew got the opportunity to finish the scoring with a fine pointed effort from play ensuring his team made history after two narrow defeats in the final in recent years.