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St Malachy’s of Castledawson showed their mettle - 02/05/2017

A NEW DAWN St Colm’s, Banagher 2-6 Castledawson 4-6 IT was a game of two halves in this final, as St Malachy’s of Castledawson showed their mettle to take the win in a thrilling game. The boys in white were fortunate to only be five points behind at the break, but with Cormac Mullan unstoppable in the full forward line, three second half goals proved to be enough against a talented Banagher outfit. Slow start This game took a while to get going, but when it did the spectators were treated to a match of the highest quality. Six minutes in the first score arrived when the impressive Cormac Mullan turned well and finished in front of the sticks to put his side in front from 20 metres out. Banagher responded in perfect fashion when just sixty seconds later Callum O’Kane made the run down the right side, and despite the attentions of two Castledawson players he was able to finish high into Tiernan McOscar’s net to put his side in front. Eamon Og Feeney extended that lead two minutes later with a good finish that left three between the teams. Castledawson were then left with a mountain to climb on the ten minute mark when Caelon Haslett got his name on the score sheet with another goal that left St Malachy’s really needing to raise the green flag themselves if that wanted to keep their hopes alive. St Colm’s continued to dominate however and Tom Quirk added another point off his left foot to really put his team in control with the game just 12 minutes old. Castledawson couldn’t afford to let their heads drop, and they needed a spark which they got it from Odhran McOscar when the forward got free on the right side and under little pressure was able to fire the ball into the top corner of Conor Robinson’s net. It was there again just three minutes later when Cormac Mullan showed great skill to get past his man and play the ball across for John Connery to palm it in, but he was penalised for a square ball. McOscar kept his team in it with two minutes remaining in the half when he got down low to his left to save a fantastic shot from Cahir O’Hara. Shea McKenna and Jack McGongile then exchanged points at the half drew to a close, with Banagher looking comfortable with a five point half-time lead. Half-time St Colm’s, Banagher 2-4 Castledawson 1-2 Castledawson needed a fast start, and they got just that three minutes into the second half. Once again Cormac Mullan was the man who provided the spark as he showed great vision to play it in for Connery who kept his composure for a goal that put just two in it. They followed it up almost immediately with a Shea McKenna free as Banagher tried to find their unstoppable first half rhythm. Keeper McOscar was called into action on 32 minutes in as he showed great reflexes to stop Michael McGilligan’s snapshot on the turn. From there St Malachy’s went down the other end and levelled matters through another McKenna free – a superb response from their first half showing. Incredibly, Castledawson then took the lead when a floated free from Mullan was caught well by Connery who swivelled on the edge of the square and fired in his second goal of the day. It took ten minutes, but St Colm’s finally got on the board in the second half with a McGonigle free that settled their nerves and made it 3-4 to 2-5. Banagher had now found their groove again, and Haslett reduced the deficit to a single score. Castledawson sealed victory with five minutes to go, and it was again that man Mullan at the heart of things as he played the ball into Connery who lad it off for Connor O’Hagan to get St Malachy’s fourth goal. As the game entered additional time, McKenna chose the perfect moment to get his first score from open play to put six in it. Banagher pushed hard for the goal they needed in the final stages, but good ball retention from Castledawson saw them comfortably get to the whistle and celebrate their success. Teams St Colm’s, Banagher: Conor Robinson, Dylan Newland, Thomas O'Neill, Caelon Hasson, Adrian Gormley, Darragh Kelly, Ryan Millar, Niall Mooney, Callum O'Kane (1-0), Jack McGonigle (0-2, 1f), Michael McGilligan (0-1), Cahir O'Hara (0-1), Tom Quirk, Caelon Haslett (1-1), Eamon Og Feeney (0-1). Subs: Emmet Conway for A Gormley (43), Patrick Reid for T Quirk (46), Eoin Kealey for T O’Neill (52). Casteldawson: Tiernan McOscar, Senan O'Kane, Fionn Glavin, Tom McLarnon, Oran Bell, Pearse Keenan, Connor Stuart, Patrick Craig, Ethan Johnston, Eoin Doyle, Shea McKenna (0-4, 3f), Odhran McOscar (1-0), John Connery, (2-0) Cormac Mullan (0-2), Aidan McElroy. Subs: Connor O’Hagan (1-0) for O McOscar (37), Jarlath McKernan for C Mullan (51). Referee: Maurice Corrigan. Man of the Match Cormac Mullan was a force to be reckoned with for St Malachy’s, pulling on a skilful display that drove his team to the win. Score of the Match Substitute Connor O’Hagan’s goal was a superb example of great team play, with Cormac Mullan and John Connery instrumental in the build up. Turning point Castledawson’s rapid start to the second half saw them cut the five point gap before Banagher really got going and the momentum carried the St Malachy’s men over the line.