Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup quarter-final
St Pius X Magherafelt 2-13 St Malachy’s Castlewellan 2-8
Depending from which vantage point you viewed this Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup quarter-final at the Dub yesterday afternoon, St Pius X Magherafelt staged a remarkable second half comeback or St Malachy’s Castlewellan passed over a great chance of a semi-final spot.
St Malachy’s got a dream start by cutting through the middle from the throw-in. Declan McClements performed an excellent toe-tap pull-back to throw the defence before releasing Aaron Devlin to fire to the net.
They almost had a second goal in the fourth minute. Christopher Rooney’s punch beat the goalie but was cleared off the line.
The second goal however arrived from the penalty spot in the 11th minute after another excellent passing movement put Odhrán McKibben clear. He was bundled over and McClements made no mistake.
Points from Liam Middleton and Conor Shields made it 2-4 to 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter with Castlewellan’s passing and speed on the break very impressive.
St Pius X got going a little during the second quarter, but Castlewellan deserved to lead by 2-5 to 0-5 at the break.
But things took a real turn for the worse for the Down school during the second half. Their close-passing game seemed to run into cul-de-sacs, they conceded too many silly frees within Caolan Devlin’s scoring range and there were too many handling errors.
St Pius X however set themselves up better after the break, placing midfielder Conor Quinn at full-forward and generally being more direct with long ball out of defence, while Padraig Grogan’s move to midfield helped both himself and his team get into the game.
They scored 1-2 between the 35th and 37th minute, the goal coming from a misplaced kick-out that was returned high to the edge of the area for Quinn to bundle over the line.
That tied the scores at 2-5 to 1-8 and the next score, in the 45th minute, effectively sealed the turnaround. Padraig McGrogan won a no-hope ball at half-back and found Nathan Scullion, who simply turned and hit a high pass over the Castlewellan defence into the arms of Conor Quinn who rounded the goalie for St Pius X’s second major.
Although the busy Aaron Devlin replied with a point, it was his namesake and free-taker Caolan that put the game safe with four points in the last 12 minutes, three of them from handy 20m frees.
St Pius X : Ronan Cassidy, Paul McCrystal, Aodhan Conway, Odhran Bradley, Iarlaith Donaghy, Aaron Rocks, Sean Monaghan, Joseph Maybin 0-1, Conor Quinn 2-1, Aidan McGlone, Padraig McGrogan 0-1, Oran Kerr, Nathan Scullion, Caolan Devlin 0-8, 0-7 frees, Mark McGrogan 0-1.
Sub : Ciaran McKeever 0-1 for O Bradley (4, injured)
St Malachy’s : Aodghan Fegan, Caolan Moorehead, Ruairi McGuinness, Odhran McKibben, Conor Shields 0-1, Aaron Ward, Diarmuid McEvoy, Declan McClements 1-1, 1-0 pen., Liam Middleton 0-2, 0-1 free, Tiernan Noade 0-2, Brendan McKay 0-1, Ronan Harrison, Christopher Rooney, Aaron Devlin 1-1, Matthew Carville.
Subs : Conor McAnulty for C Rooney (38), Sheelan Johnson for T Noade (38).
Referee Brendan Toland (Antrim).