FOUR unanswered points in the last 10 minutes diverted the Danske Bank Faul Cup to West Belfast at the weekend when it seemed certain that it would end up for the first time at St Joseph’s in Newry.
Despite the school being located just off the Falls Road, no less than seven players from North Belfast club Pearse’s contributed to the West Belfast college’s remarkable come-from-behind victory.
Coláiste Feirste team mentor Pádraig Mac Cathail simply couldn’t take it all in.
“Dochreidte, dochreidte ar fad. I thought that it was going away from us during the third quarter,” he said.
“St Joseph’s seemed to dominate the middle for the first 10 minutes of the second half, so we just decided to take a chance and push more players into the midfield area, a couple of defenders and the half-forwards.
“And it worked, we broke a lot of ball and with Máirtín (Ó Lailí) now at full-forward, we just kept hitting the ball in very fast and hoping that he could use his speed to gain possession and it just worked. On another day, it mightn’t have.
“We reckoned our defence was pretty solid and right through the competition we were managing to keep opponents’ scores down. That was key against St Joseph’s as well. If you keep the opposition to 1-5, you have a good chance of making it.”
GAA co-ordinator in the school, Séamas Ó Tuama was also delighted with the success.
“In the past couple of seasons we have more members of staff taking teams and that has meant that we are getting to the latter stages on a more regular basis,” he explained.
“We have managed to win a few trophies in the last couple of years and it is fantastic for the morale in the school.
“To come from behind like this and win shows real character and comes from building up confidence and belief. Tá an Coláiste bródúil as an oíche anocht.”
Both teams were tentative enough in the opening period of the game and it was just two points each after 27 minutes, Ryan Gorman scoring both for St Joseph’s and Máirtín Ó Láilí and Seán Mac Murláin hitting the target for Coláiste Feirste.
Then the Belfast boys got their break.
Despite being surrounded by three players and keeping the ball on the deck, Ó Láilí somehow held possession until he found himself with an empty net and a tap-in goal.
St Joseph’s Caolan Marron quickly responded with a point and added another on the re-start before Darren Devlin fired in a 36th minute goal.
Marron added a point and suddenly there was a gap of three points in it.
However, the Gaeilgeoirí crowded midfield, and began to gather the breaking ball and pressurise the Newry back-line.
Ó Lailí pointed, then Jordan Ó Tomhnair before Odhran Ó Cluasaigh levelled the game with five minutes to play.
The winning score, a tremendous high punt from 45 metres from the boot of Niall Ó Raghallaigh was the score of the match and a fitting winning score.
COLÁISTE FEIRSTE: P Mac Philib, D Mag Léid, M Ó Labhraí, E Mac Cú Uladh, N Ó Cuillin/Mag Aoidh, T Bunting, J Ruiséil, N Ó Raghallaigh (0-1), L Baiséid, J Ó Tomhnóir (0-1), M O’Lalí (1-2), O Ó Cluasaigh (0-1), P Mac Ailín, S Mac Muraláin (0-1), C Ó Cathail. SUBS: A Mac Mathúna for S Mac Muraláin (50).
ST JOESEPH’S, NEWRY: R McElroy, L Quinn, D McManus, C Byrne, N Magill, T Hughes, P Magee, J Pinnington capt, M Keenan, R Gorman (0-2), C Marron (0-3), D Devlin (1-0), D Quigley, J Kelly, R McAleavey. SUBS: T Marks for C Byrne (43).