A rare midweek outing under the lights at Loughside saw Aquinas edge out neighbours Ulidia on a perfect evening for football.
For the first 20 minutes the Blue ’n’ Blacks enjoyed significant territorial advantage but failed to find a way through a well drilled Ulidia defence.
During this period it was holding midfielder Philip O’Sullivan who came closest to scoring with a 20 yarder that shaved the crossbar.
The opener came from the forehead of Niall McCourt, who powered home yet another perfect Matt Carson delivery from a corner. Martin Beeton quickly doubled the lead with a clever finish from a Hugh O’Connor through ball.
Ulidia hit back within a couple of minutes with a somewhat bizarre ricocheted goal before Aquinas reasserted their authority with a quick-fire double just before half time. The first of these was a sweet Paddy O’Boyle strike with his left foot after a great cross-field ball from Matt Hughes and the second was a towering Conor Flynn header.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first in that a long goalless period was followed by a glut during which the Blue ’n’ Blacks were rampant.
After a 20-minute barren spell, goal machine Tom Maguire helped himself to a couple in as many minutes before Matt Carson rolled back the years with a 30-yard screamer of a free-kick into the top corner. Conor Toner then nodded in a Cormac O’Hanlon cross before man of the match O’Boyle finished sublimely.
The evening was rounded off for Aquinas with a momentous first goal in Blue ’n’ Black for sweeper Caolan Lynch whose cool slot was that of a skilled marksman.
Carryduff Colts 1
As was to be expected, Saturday’s game at Ormeau against Carryduff was a much tighter affair and indeed Aquinas came away with a winning margin that was probably somewhat flattering.
The Colts settled quicker and with the wind at their backs were on the front foot from the off. They took the lead after only three minutes from a long throw that Aquinas struggled to clear.
Only a miraculous goal line clearance from Dan Rainey prevented a second midway through the half but slowly Aquinas settled.
Cormac O’Hanlon began to dominate in midfield and he came closest to equalising for Aquinas only to be thwarted by a fine fingertip save.
Joe Cunnane was always a threat and was unlucky not to get on the end of a great Hugh O’Connor cross just on the half time whistle but, overall, the Blue ’n’ Blacks were reasonably content with just a 1-0 deficit going into the break.
The second half was an altogether more open affair and there is no doubt that the Colts played much better into the breeze than Aquinas had.
Conor Flynn levelled the game up 12 minutes in with a header from man of the match Dan Rainey’s corner.
What Flynn did next though was simply stunning and will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation when his grandchildren come calling in years to come.
Standing well inside his own half, and fully 60 yards from goal, he let fly with an almighty clearance which set off at an unbelievable trajectory, bounced once and rattled the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the net.
Back though came Carryduff Colts and the Blue ’n’ Blacks had to rely on one great save from goalkeeper Kevin McGovern and two more last ditch Dan Rainey clearances to protect the lead.
Ten minutes from time Tom Maguire settled the nerves with a typical run and finish before quick thinking from Matt Hughes, at a throw in, sent Paddy O’Boyle clear to add the icing to the cake for Aquinas, who then had to suffer Flynn on the, thankfully brief, journey home.