Whitecross won the Premier Division battle against Sheepbridge in the semi-final of the Cunningham Cup in CWC 8-1 on Thursday night. It was one of the surprise results of the season. The 2 teams met in the final league game of the season and Whitecross beat a depleted Sheepbridge side but the Belfast road team have a fantastic record against the South Armagh lads and were red hot favourites here again.
Cathal Phelan was steady as a rock and needed all his skill & nerves of steal to beat the experienced potter Connor Quinn and put Whitecross 1 up.
Brian O'Neill who's having a brilliant season doubled the Whitecross lead when he beat the useful Brendan Markey right on the 20min mark for 2-0.
Connor O'Hare dragged Sheepbridge back into the game with some superb pool to make it 2-1 when he saw off the stylish Shane Phelan.
The next frame was going to be crucial. A win for Sheepbridge would put Whitecross on the back foot but a win for the villagers would put some series pressure on the 'Bridge'.
As it was, teen sensation Michael 'the Tornado' Feenan blew Collie Loughran away and Whitecross now had a very useful 3-1 lead.
Gavin Malone has worked his magic more as a captain than doing it on the green baize this season. Guiding his Whitecross side to 2 major cup finals is no mean feat. But now it was time to do the business on the table. League secretary Micky Cunningham was in a 'must win' situation but after a scrappy game Malone held his nerve to put the Sth Armagh side on the hill at 4-1.
Alan Burke has been so crucial during Whitecross' cup runs its safe to say that without him the 'Cross' would be in no cup finals. He has been majestic and nerveless and again on Thursday night when he took on George Duffy he showed his class by sinking a tricky black right on the 20min buzzer and send Whitecross through to the Cunningham Cup final for 5-1.
Things didn't exactly improve for the Bowling Alley outfit. Seanie Markey is a super potter & would have been well fancied to beat Joseph McTaggart but things just weren't falling the way of Sheepbridge and some great play from McTaggart made the score an embarrassing 6-1.
But there was no let-up from the 'Cross'. Gareth McCann has had better seasons for Whitecross but he has been exceptional in the cup games. He was on form again to beat Pat Kearns and now the score read 7-1.
The heads were well and truly down but you have to commend Sheepbridge players for playing out their games even though their hearts weren't in it. Mickey O'Hanlon was on last against a very good Gwyn Trainor and the steady Mickey made no mistake in sealing an unbelievable 8-1 win for Whitecross.