O'Hara's clinical finish decisive for Maghera
St Pat's Maghera are sitting at the top of Ulster colleges football again after ending a 10-year wait at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh to land the crown.
First-time finalists St Paul's Bessbrook deserve credit for pushing them all the way – the Armagh lads were unlucky not to force a replay.
The occasion appeared to get to both sides early on as they struggled to find their fluency, with St Paul's taking a 0-2 to 0-1 lead thanks to points from Aaron McKay and Blaine Malone, Stephen O'Hara having opened the scoring for Maghera. The game then changed in three first-half minutes as the winners grabbed two goals.
The first one came from centre-back Conor Carville when he got a touch to a Peter Cassidy delivery to divert to the net, before O'Hara produced a clinical finish for a 2-1 to 0-3 interval lead.
St Paul's captain Ciaran O'Hanlon converted two early second-half frees, but the superb Cassidy split those two scores when he showed good strength to fist a point.
The winners then moved four clear when two Gerald Bradley frees were followed by an effort from play from substitute Conor Convery.
The St Paul's challenge seemed to be fading, but they demonstrated great character to hit back. A rasping drive from Eoghan Burns just cleared the crossbar before substitute Caolan McCullough palmed over another score.
With the game in injury-time, O'Hanlon converted his fifth free, but they couldn't find an equaliser to force extra-time as St Pat's Maghera held on to take their 13th title at this level.
Scorers – Maghera: S O'Hara 1-1, C Carville 1-0, G Bradley 0-2fs, P Cassidy, C Convery 0-1 each Bessbrook: C O'Hanlon 0-5fs, A McKay 0-2, E Burns, B Malone, C McCullough 0-1 each
St Pat's Maghera – C McCloy; C Glass, D Hughes, O Hegarty; C Mulholland, C Carville, C Gallagher; J Kearney, Peter Cassidy; C O'Doherty, G Bradley, D McFaul; Padraig Cassidy, S O'Hara, D Tallon. Subs: P Hagan for Padraig Cassidy, C Convery for McFaul, P McAtamney for Peter Cassidy
St Paul's Bessbrook – S McDonnell; J Cosgrove, C Boyle, K Mallon; P Campbell, D Nugent, G McCabe; A McKay, B Malone; E Burns, C McConville, C Mackin; C Nugent, C O'Hanlon, F Burns. Subs: C Toner for McConville, C McCullough for Mallon, M McNamee for F Burns, J Burns for Toner
Ref – M Higgins (Fermanagh)
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