St Peter’s College reach All-Ireland football final

Rory O’Connor’s goal proves crucial as they defeat St Mary’s Magherafelt by a single point

 

St Peter’s College, Wexford 2-10 St Mary’s, Magherafelt 2-9

Rory O’Connor scored a cracking 41st minute goal into the wind which proved crucial as St Peter’s College withstood a late surge from St Mary’s to edge to a one-point victory in this excellent Masita All-Ireland PPS Senior football ‘A’ championship semi-final at Inniskeen, Monaghan, yesterday afternoon.

This was an unusual semi-final pairing as St Mary’s had just won their first ever McRory Cup, while St Peter’s, more renowned for their hurling exploits, were still seeking their first All-Ireland senior football title.

There was a huge intensity to the opening exchanges as St Peter’s, playing with the wind at their backs,set about imposing themselves on the game.

But t they were up against a composed, skilful and slick-moving St Mary’s outfit who, with a packed midfield, set about curtailing the influence of Rory O’Connor in this sector, and the inside scoring threat of Barry O’Connor and Cathal Devereux.

The sides shared points through the opening exchanges with Quinn Saunders and Barry O’Connor finding the target for the Model County side, while Sean Kelly and Tiernan McAteer responded for the northern side. McAteer a late replacement for the injured Declan Cassidy in the half-back line was imposing himself on the game.

While St Mary’s defended through the opening quarter they were clearly feeling the loss of their captain Cassidy who had a splendid game in their Ulster final victory last Friday.

Superb save

St Peter’s began to step up a gear and their efforts eventually began to produce scores with a string of points from Ben Maddock, Brian Deeny, Rory O’Connor, Dylan Furlong and Cathal Devereux edging them into a 0-8 to 0-5 lead approaching the break. Points through Kelly, McAteer and Kieran McCann kept St Mary’s in touch.

At the other end Lynch pulled off a superb save from Cathal Devereux, but right on the break with the last kick of the half, Quinn Saunders created space to crash a rising shot to the net, a huge morale boost to St Peter’s as it gave them a 1-8 to 0-5 interval lead.

On the resumption, St Mary’s were breaking forward in numbers while they were using Kevin Small in at full-forward as a real target man, peppering him with direct and diagonal ball, as they tried to expose an up to then solid Peter’s defence, where Ben Maddock, Quinn Saunders and Conor Firman were proving excellent.

Six minutes into the second half, St Mary’s’ pressure eventually produced a score when Sean Kelly found the net to reduce the deficit to 1-8 to 1-5.

A further Cormac Murphy point left just two points separating the sides but 11 minutes into the second half a cracking Rory O’Connor goal was to prove crucial for it put his side into a 2-8 to 1-6 lead.

Leading 2-10 to 1-6, the St Peter’s defence was proving defiant in face of a real onslaught as St Mary’s Liam Quinn and Murphy reduced the deficit to 2-10 to 1-9. Four minutes from the end Matthew Rodgers found the net to set up a dramatic and tense finish but St Peter’s held firm to see out the game for a tremendous victory.

ST PETER’S COLLEGE,(Wexford): R Ryan; E O’Leary, B Maddock (0-1), D O’Keeffe; Q Saunders (1-1), C Firman, F O’Driscoll; B Deeny (0-1), R O’Connor (1-1); D Furlong (0-1), B Moore, P Barry; D Lyne (0-1), B O’Connor (0-1), C Devereux (0-3, 1f). Subs: D Gouldson for Lyne; M Codd for Saunders.

ST MARY’S, MAGHERAFELT (Derry): O Lynch; C McCluskey, S Kelly (1-3, 2f), M Loughran; T McAteer (0-2), C Devlin, E Kelly; K McCann, T Donaghy; A Connolly, D Bradley, S McErlain; L Quinn (0-2), K Small, C Murphy (0-1). Subs: J McCann for K McCann(0-1); M Rodgers (1-0) for Connolly; C Donnelly for Donaghy; O Devlin for Loughran.

Referee: J Hickey (Carlow).

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