THE rules of football dictate that only one team was in a position to walk away on Monday night with the Mullen Cup trophy.
However, the primary schools’ final between Edenderry and St John the Baptist pupils should be considered an overall success for football in Portadown.
Two town schools met at Tandragee Rovers’ Madden Road to contest the youth showpiece - and served up a thrilling finale for the impressive crowd as an extra-time goal sealed victory by 3-2 for Edenderry.
Daniel Gordon proved alert to net the decisive goal in the closing stages of extra-time after Edenderry had gone ahead only to lose the lead against a slick St John the Baptist outfit.
“It is a major achievement for the school and certainly it must be 20 years or so since we had anything similar,” said Peter Mullan, a joint coach of the Edenderry boys alongside Ashley McClean. “It was great to see two schools from Portadown contest the final and a real testament to the quality and dedication around the town.
“We took some time to settle on the big pitch in Tandragee and were probably under pressure early on.
“However, Dylan Nelson was very brave between the posts and had excellent support from his defenders.
“Jack Adamson’s pass set up Nathan Stewart to break the deadlock but St John the Baptist reacted well and moved 2-1 up.
“We made some attacking changes to try and get back into the final and ended up level following Jack Adamson’s finish from a Zach Capper pass.
Extra-time was close, although St John the Baptist managed a good spell which forced us to dig in.
“Zach Capper then hit the post from a free-kick and during a strong finish we carved out one last chance.
“Zach Capper’s pass released Michael Doyle and he managed to squeeze the shot past the goalkeeper, with Daniel Gordon making sure.
“It sparked mass celebrations and it was a wonderful reward for such a cracking group of players.
“They have worked really well together this season as a squad and I think the match was a credit to both schools.”
EDENDERRY PRIMARY SCHOOL: Dylan Nelson, Matthew Cowan, Brandon Gribben, Morgan Smyth, Dale Mulligan, Zach Capper, Lee Upton, Nathan Stewart, Daniel Gordon, Sammy Davidson, Jack Adamson, Michael Doyle, Joshua Smyth, Cameron Fox, Stuart Hoy.
Martin Hagan, the St John the Baptist coach, was full of praise for his young players.
“It is obviously hard to lose a final and the boys were gutted,” he said. “However, that is football and they take pride from the performance.
“We had plenty of possession and chances but only managed to convert thanks to Cahal McGinty and Tom Weir.
“Three years ago we also lost the Mullen Cup final but have finished this season as runners-up in two competitions, when you add the Mid-Ulster Large Schools’ League.
“We won the Jones Shield for five-a-side teams and the Brownlow Integrated tournament.
“On behalf of both schools I would like to thank Stephen Guy for acting as referee and to everyone who helped to support the night.”
ST JOHN THE BAPTIST: Paul Flynn, Oisin Hamill, Fionnbharr Hamill, Conor Curran, Cahal McGinty, Natahan McConaghy, Eamon Curran, Tom Weir, Michael O’Neill, Ryan McGuckin, Andrew Wilson, Josh Bush, Dillon Hughes, Kohl Lavery.
FOURTEEN players from schools in the area have been selected to represent Mid-Ulster at this weekend’s Celtic Cup.
Play will kick off today (Friday) at Stormont before games tomorrow (Saturday) and a special presentation dinner in City Hall.
Mid-Ulster players will compete against North Dublin, Dumfries and Galloway.
Players from the area are as follows: Alex Wallace (Seagoe), William Graham (Millington), Sam Murphy (Orchard County), Tiranan Byrne (Ballyoran), Zach Capper (Edenderry), Jack Evans (Millington), Craig Smith (Hardy Memorial), Cahal McGinty (St John the Baptist), Tom Weir (St John the Baptist), Tyler Marsden (Hart Memorial), Rhys Jones (Scarva), Lee Upton (Edenderry), Mark Farrell (Hardy Memorial), Rhys Calvert (Millington).
Coaching staff include Martin Hagan (St John the Baptist), Stephen Guy (Millington), Peter Mullan (Edenderry) and Stephen Blevins (Orchard County).