Aquinas progressed to the semi-finals of the cup on Saturday with a solid performance against Shankill Juniors.

Despite the glorious spring conditions, a bobbly pitch made free flowing football tricky and aerial competitions were the order of the day.

Cormac O’Hanlon, Ciaran Mohan and Conor Flynn came out on top of these as the early chances fell to Aquinas.

Tom Maguire headed over the bar and had a shot flash past the post following pin-point set pieces from Matt Carson.

A Shankill blast tested Kevin McGovern who was on his toes to deal with their long range efforts while his counterpart pulled off a great save at the other end in a one-on-one with Maguire.

A perfect Matt Hughes cross fell to Conor Toner who was unlucky to see his spectacular full volley climb over the bar.

Caolan Lynch had a superb game and consolidated the Aquinas back four which had been reshuffled through injuries.

Ten minutes before the interval Shankill nearly scored with a shot and header in quick succession, but it was Aquinas who took the lead into the break when a long Joe Cunnane throw was flicked on by Matt Hughes for Paddy O’Boyle to side foot expertly into the top corner.

The Shankill keeper pulled off some fine saves during a series of corners at the start of the second half and for a time Aquinas looked edgy without the elusive second goal.


They had to go on the defensive as Shankill United pressed forward and were relieved to see a dangerous free-kick veer just wide.

Once settled the second half belonged largely to the ‘Blue ’n’ Blacks’ with Conor O’Doherty grazing the crossbar and Peter Morgan going close.

With ten minutes left it looked as if a single goal was all there was going to be until Dan Rainey fed Conor Toner who sprinted up the left flank and squared for Tom Maguire to poke past the diving Shankill keeper.

Immediately at the restart Conor O’Doherty seized possession and threaded the ball to Maguire who rounded the keeper and slotted home from a tight angle.

Up until that point, equal terms had been a possibility for Shankill in this tight game but Maguire’s second strike put the game to bed for Aquinas.

Aquinas: Kevin McGovern, Hugh O’Connor, Niall McCourt, Conor Flynn, Thomas Cafolla, Caolan Lynch, Joe Cunnane, Matt Carson (c), Cormac O’Hanlon, Ciaran Mohan, Dan Rainey, Philip O’Sullivan, Paddy O’Boyle, Peter Morgan, Matt Hughes, Conor O’Doherty, Conor Toner, Tomas Maguire, Martin Beeton.