Mona Pride prevails as Butler-coached team secures school's first ever Manning Cup title

By December 08, 2023
Moan High Moan High MGSports_media

Craig Butler stressed the term unification of purpose, and also spoke highly of Mona High’s pride throughout the season. To some, it may have even seemed arrogant when he declared that there was no school in the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup to beat his team this year, and on Friday, Butler not only proved the doubters wrong, but more importantly, backed up the talk.

In only his third season in charge, Butler guided Mona High to its maiden schoolboy football title, as they edged Hydel High 1-0 in an entertaining final at the National Stadium.

Demarion Harris got the all-important goal that ensured Mona High became the 15th school to hold the emblem of urban area schoolboy football supremacy. They now join Jamaica College, St George’s College, Kingston College, Wolmer’s Boys, Excelsior High, Tivoli High, Calabar High, Charlie Smith, Camperdown High, Norman Manley High, Bridgeport High, Dunoon Technical, Ardenne High and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS), in achieving the feat.

It is also the first time in 22 years that a new team’s name is etched on the title, as for the last 17 years, in particular, the Manning Cup has resided on North Street and Old Hope Road.

An emotionally Butler attributed the team’s success to the bond that they share.

“This is what love does, love conquers all things. Look at what they gave us on the field today, all heart fight for the entire game, they wanted this, and they got it, so we are very proud…Mona pride. This is about believing in youth and having faith in yourselves, believing in your system and playing to your strengths.

“That’s what these boys did, none of these boys were ever called for Jamaica’s Under-15, Under-17 and under-20, nobody wanted them and look how good they are.  Look how Mona played, systematic right through,” Butler said in a post-game interview.

After a fairly cagey start, Mona injected some tempo into the contest with a tidy build-up which started with a long pass out by goalkeeper Akeem Bernard and ended with Kshaine Gordon playing a pass inside for Harris to fire home from deep inside the 18-yard box, for his fifth of the season.

Mona should have doubled the lead in the 16th, as Carlton Brown was left unmarked deep inside the area but steered his header, from Romarion Thomas’s cross, wide of the left upright.

Hydel belatedly came to life in attack and were enterprising in their build-up play in patches but couldn’t produce anything meaningful to beat Bernard in goal for Mona High.

Mona looked more threatening in open play after the interval, and bossed possession for the most parts, but found Hydel’s defence in a defiant mode.

It wasn’t until the backend of the contest that they got efforts on target, the first of which was in the 86th when Thomas produced a delightful first touch to get around defender and unleash a stinging right-footed effort that rattled the crossbar.

The second came seconds later through Gordon’s follow-up effort that was parried by Tajarie Lee.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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