NO THREEPEAT FOR MARKETHILL!!
Markethill High’s attempt to win the Taylor Cup for three years in a row came to an agonising end in the semi-finals when they lost to Ballycastle HS by one goal to nil.
It was the only goal that Markethill conceded in this season’s campaign, the defending champions had a much changed side this year when eleven of last season’s side left at the end of year 12. They were big boots to fill but despite not being as technically gifted as their predecessors the team this year showed great unity and a hard work ethic.
Markethill won their section with a 1-0 away win against last season’s runners-up BRA with Daniel Calvin scoring from a short corner midway into the 2nd half. They followed this fine away win up with a 3-0 win over BRA at home. Kris Calvert scored a fine strike to start the scoring , then he had an assist with a fine dummy to beat his marker and allow Jack Cavell to find the net, Mark Boyd completed the scoring from an acute angle with 2 minutes remaining.
Markethill also had two victories over newcomers to the competition Craigavon SHS. They won 4-0 away with a superb 2nd half performance. Jack Cavell scoring a 2nd half hat-trick after Daniel Calvin had smashed a reverse into the top corner.
In the return game at Mowhan Road Craigavon proved a very stubborn opposition as they needed a draw to secure their place in the semis. Jack Cavell continued his goal scoring form with a neat finish and kris Calvert blasted home a rebound from his own initial effort to guarantee the win.
Markethill topped the group with 12pts, 4 wins, scoring goals & conceding 0.
This meant they were drawn at home in the semi-finals against Ballycastle. The game was played in searing heat, but both sides were fully committed to trying to reach the final. Play swung from end to end with the visitors looking dangerous on counter attacks. William Shepherd in goals for MHS made 3 good saves in the first half in 1 on 1o situations. At the other end Markethill’s short corners were mis-firing. The Ballycastle saved well from Daniel Black and the rebound was scrambled away as Mark Dalzell followed up.
In the 2nd half Ballycastle were again denied by Shepherd in another 1on 1 and also diving to his right to save with his stick. The final pass was not being collected at the opposite end as Markethill were dominating possession. Then came the goal….a long ball out of defence saw a Ballycastle forward turn Morgan Dodds, then he and his team mate beat captain Mark Alexander in a 2v1, William blocked the initial shot but the ball broke to the other forward who crashed it home despite a Markethill defender’s diving efforts to keep the ball out. Markethill came out and attack after attack was thwarted as Ballycastle dropped deep- won a tackle and simply hit the ball off the far end or took their time to take a free hit and sideline ball. In a final roll of the dice with 3 minutes to go William Shepherd was taken off and a futher attacker put up in the Ballycastle circle but MHS just could not fashion an effort on goal.
As the final whistle went the disappointment was evident….Markethill players were on their knees, exhausted and gutted. They had given their all and it was the 4th year in a row Markethill had reached at least the semi-finals. A valiant effort by a very industrious side to defend the ulster school’s title.
Mr Mc Minn spoke after the match, ‘ It just wasn’t to be our day, the guys have been magnificent this season. We have played some good attacking hockey and defended well as a unit. The boys can look forward to the pitch opening match as a celebratory match for all their efforts, especially the year 12s who have played hockey for 5 years here at Markethill. The year 11s are determined to come back strongly and win the trophy back again. I am very proud of the efforts of the whole squad.
W Shepherd, M Alexander (capt), D Black, M Dodds, C Moffett, M Dalzell, D Calvin, D Percy, R Hawthorne, J Cavell, K Calvert, M Boyd, A Cartmill, J Wilson & R Jackson