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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Back-to-back All-Ireland titles for Summerhill

Published 15/04/2014 | 05:40

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Summerhill captain and matchwinner, Brian Glennon, displays the Dr. Tony O'Neill Cup after his side's thrilling victory in the All-Ireland senior final.
HIGH FLYER: Summerhill's Gary Armstrong challenges Scoil Mhuire's Peter Doherty for possession
Gary Armstrong and Darragh O'Brien combine to set Summerhill on the attack against Scoil Mhuire in the All Ireland senior schools soccer final

Summerhill College joined an elite list of schools who have won back-to-back All Ireland senior soccer titles when they captured the Dr. Tony O'Neill Cup for the second year in a row in a pulsating final at Maginn Park, Buncrana last Wednesday.

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Summerhill College joined an elite list of schools who have won back-to-back All Ireland senior soccer titles when they captured the Dr. Tony O'Neill Cup for the second year in a row in a pulsating final at Maginn Park, Buncrana last Wednesday.

Extra time was needed to resolve an enthralling match which ebbed and flowed from the first kick to the last before the Sligo boys emerged as worthy champions against a gallant Scoil Mhuire side.

Summerhill led twice in regulation time but were pegged back on each occasion by the Buncrana boys who must have sensed they were poised for their first ever All-Ireland title.

But with the game on a knife edge and twenty minutes of extra time to come, the Sligo side dug deep into their reserves of energy and character to fashion an epic victory.

Less than a minute of extra time had elapsed when Summerhill struck for what proved to be the decisive score.

Gary Armstrong, a pivotal figure throughout, floated a tantalising free from the right wing deep into the Buncrana area and team captain, Brian Glennon, timed his run and jump to perfection to direct a classic downward header low to the net.

It was the third time Summerhill had led in the game and on this occasion they were in no mood to let their advantage slip away.

Weary limbs began to take a heavy toll in the energy-sapping heat of battle but the Summerhill boys rose to the challenge with heroic defiance, defending with vigilance and composure and counter-attacking with pace and intelligence.

Goalkeeper, Ryan Blake, who decorated a magnificent performance with a number of critical saves, was obliged to come to his side's rescue late on, stretching to his right to claw away a blistering drive from the highly impressive Georgie Kelly.

Even then there was time for more drama as the Sligo boys engineered a sweeping attack which almost brought a fourth goal right at the death. However, Buncrana 'keeper, Caolan McGonagle reacted smartly to parry Armstrong's effort.

Within seconds, referee, Denis Dullaghan, brought a compelling contest to a close, sparking off wild scenes of jubilation among Summerhill's vociferous supporters who rushed on to the pitch to acclaim their heroes.

The pattern for an absorbing encounter was set early on as both teams displayed a refreshing sense of adventure.

Summerhill were neat and inventive in the early stages yet it was the Buncrana side who had the better of the chances early on.

Michael Coyle blazed wide from a good position after 11 minutes and then Kelly was denied at close range by Blake after an uncharacteristic mistake by the Summerhill defence left the striker with a clear sight of the target.

With the excellent Darren Kilcawley a growing influence at midfield, Summerhill gradually began to get the upper hand and edged in front in the 23rd minute.

A lovely move involving Ryan McManus and Armstrong drew a free from the Buncrana defence. Armstrong put the resultant cross into a dangerous area and Stephen Kerins reacted quickest in a crowded goalmouth to drill the ball low the net from 16 yards.

True to the nature of a rip-roaring contest, Buncrana hauled themselves back into contention, drawing level just before the break when Ryan Varma's corner was forced home by Mark Coyle.

The game took another twist within six minutes of the restart when Summerhill regained the lead.

Kilcawley was the architect, weaving his way past three flying tackles on a mesmerising run before setting up Malachy Spratt who finished in style, dispatching a shot of stunning precision low to the net.

Once again, Scoil Mhuire showed great character in lifting themselves for a renewed challenge.

Blake saved brilliantly from Calvin Gallagher and then Kelly headed wide from close range as the Buncrana pressure gathered momentum.

Then, in the 71st minute, the home side drew level for a second time.

Varma's free picked out Peter Doherty and the big central defender directed a powerful header high into the roof of the net.

Both teams had chances to win it in normal time, with Armstrong coming close for Summerhill in the 88th minute.

He ran half the length of the pitch before his stinging shot was parried by McGonagle.

Courage and stamina were required in equal measure as the game went to extra time and the Summerhill boys displayed those qualities in abundance.

In the end, it was 'captain fantastic' Glennon who emerged as the matchwinner but this was a glorious triumph for a magnificent all-round team effort.

SUMMERHILL COLLEGE: Ryan Blake, Kyle Harrigan, Dylan Conboy, Brian Glennon, Stephen Kerins, Darren Kilcawley, Mark McCallion, Ryan McManus, Darragh O'Brien, Gary Armstrong, Malachy Spratt. Subs: Kyle Cawley for O'Brien (89), Darragh Gaule for Spratt (104), Brian McGowan for Harrigan (118)

SCOIL MHUIRE: Caolan McGonagle, Michael Noone, Keelan Dillon, Ryan Doherty, Peter Doherty, Paul McDermott, Michael Coyle, Ryan Varma, Georgie Kelly, Mark Coyle, Liam Doherty. Subs: Calvin Gallagher for M. Coyle (63), John Campbell for L. Doherty (100), Christopher McKinley for Dillon (116)

REFEREE: D Dullaghan, Dundalk.

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