St. Catherine’s VS, Killybegs, are on the verge of a first ever Ulster VS title after they had an easy passage to the Ulster final with a convincing victory over Ballybay at the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown, on Thursday.
St. Catherine’s VS,
Ballybay Com College 1-4
The Donegal champions had far too much firepower with corner forward Ryan Cunningham a real handful. He finished with a personal tally of 5-2, getting a first half hat-trick.
Cunningham, was the star of the game, but there were others that were influential in a very powerful display, not least a half-back line of Callum Quinn, Jack McSharry and Ryan Carr.
Sean Gorrell, a nephew of Manus Boyle, and James Byrne were in control at midfield and Michael Gallagher, a talented player on the ‘40’, played his part, although he wasn’t needed much in the second half.
There was strong gale in Irvinestown and St. Catherine’s had it at their backs in the opening half. However, it took them a while to get into their stride. Sean Gorrell had their first point on three minutes and Michael Gallagher added a second a minute later.
They were just a point up - 0-2 to 0-1 - after six minutes with Shane Forde getting what proved to be Ballybay’s only score of the first half. But further points from James Byrne and Michael Gallagher was followed by the first goal on nine minutes, Ryan Cunningham firing home after a Gallagher effort was saved. Gallagher had tore through the Ballybay defence but was denied by a magnificent save by Dean Johnston in the Ballybay goal.
Despite having plenty of possession, the Killybegs boys didn’t build on the lead until the final ten minutes. Michael Gallagher had a point in the 17th minute before Ryan Cunningham struck for two goals in two minutes between the 22nd and 24th minutes. The first of those came after he was quickly on to a long delivery and rounded his man with ease to fire to the net. Then two minutes later Michael Gallagher provided the pass and Cunningham again was sharp to fire home.
On the stroke of half-time Cunningham added a point from a free, the only score from a placed ball by the St. Catherine’s men, as they led by 3-6 to 0-1 at the break.
Any chance of a revival were dashed when Sean Gorrell found the Ballybay net inside 30 seconds of the restart. The finish was clinical from fully 25m into the corner of the net.
Ryan Cunningham added a point within a minute before Shane Forde had Ballybay’s second score on 35 minutes.
Killybegs continued to dominate, despite playing into the breeze, with Jack McSharry coming forward to fire over on 37 minutes.
Sean Gorrell added a fine point on 40 minutes before Ryan Cunningham had his fourth and Killybegs’ fifth goal a minute later, firing home from a narrow angle.
Ballybay did have a good patch in the middle of the third quarter with Dylan Quinn finishing a goal and Colm Lennon and Conor McCabe hitting points, but with five minutes left, Ryan Cunningham added his fifth goal to complete the scoring.
St. Catherine’s VS will play either St. Joseph’s, Enniskillen or St. Aidan’s, Cootehill (who are due to meet on Thursday next) in the Ulster final.
St. Catherine’s VS: Gareth Hickey; Rory Kee, Daragh Byrne, Kevin McGuinness; Ryan Carr, Jack McSharry (0-1), Callum Quinn; Sean Gorrell (1-2), James Byrne (0-1); Jordan McDaid, Michael Gallagher (0-3), Oran McGuinness; Ryan Rose, Nathan Moore, Ryan Cunningham (5-2). Subs., Daragh McGuinness for Moore; Conor Knox for Carr; Timmy Gorrell for Byrne.
Ballybay CS: D Johnston; C Cannon, G Smyth, J Duffy; M Ward, D Quinn (1-0), L McKeown; S Forde (0-2), C Lennon (0-1); D McCabe, C McCabe (0-1,f), P Hughes; S Browne, S Duffy, O O’Neill. Subs., C Lennon for Duffy; A McCabe for Hughes.
Referee: Dermot Love (Fermanagh)
Kelly pays tribute to team
“We’re delighted with the result. It was a good solid performance all round,” was the reaction of St. Catherine’s manager, Dara Kelly, after the game.
“They were very well focused and they got the goals at the right time,” said Kelly, who agreed that the opposition were not as strong as they were expecting. “To be honest we would have been expecting a tougher game, but we have a great bunch of lads. They do exactly as they’re told and there’s plenty of football in them too.
“It is great to see some of the other lads coming in today. You had Ryan Rose having his first start of the year and the likes of Ryan Cunningham, Jack McSharry, Sean Gorrell, they really stood up today. I would be very, very happy with them,” said Dara, who said he wasn’t sure if St. Catherine’s had ever made an Ulster final before.
“We had ambitions of winning Donegal this year because we won at this age group two years ago at U-14. And with the boys a couple of years and a little wiser, they have worked hard and they are a great bunch of lads,” said Dara.
“We’re aware that the cup came to Donegal last year with Magh Ene, Bundoran winning it. It would be great to keep it in Donegal and there’s one more game to go now,” said Dara.