McGrath High clips Frome Technical 1-0 to cop first Ben Francis Cup

By December 09, 2023
Ben Francis Cup champions McGrath High. Ben Francis Cup champions McGrath High.

McGrath High became the fourth school to win the ISSA/Wata Ben Francis knockout title since the change in format, as they edged Frome Technical 1-0 in a lively final at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Dante Anderson's 32nd-minute strike was enough to get the Linstead-based team over the line, and saw them join Charlemont, BB Coke and Edwin Allen as first-time champions.

Winning coach Jermaine Thomas was over the moon about his team’s accomplishment.

"I am happy and elated because we worked really hard for this. I also want to take time out to say rest in peace to Gibbs “Gibbo” Williams, he was an important part of my life and the reason why I went to college, so I wish he was here to witness this moment,” Thomas said.

“But congrats to the boys, they played well, we have been playing well all season, the last game we lost was to Christiana in the Round of 16, and we haven’t lost since then. So, I must commend the boys and the entire school community for the support,” he added.

It was a closely contested affair in which both teams threatened in open play and had their fair share of opportunities to break the deadlock.

McGrath went closest in the 32nd when a well-taken David Hutchinson freekick, was equally well-saved by Oral Davis diving full stretch to his right, in Frome Technical’s goal.

Frome responded soon after but Dwayne Watt’s shot from close range, was parried by Joel Davis, in goal for McGrath, as they remained scoreless at the break.

However, McGrath eventually found what turned out to be the match-winning goal five minutes into the resumption when Devone Davis picked up possession and played a pass off to Anderson, who applied a tidy finish, beating Oral Davis at his near post.

It was end-to-end action from there with McGrath looking to add to their tally, while Frome Technical pressed for the elusive equaliser. In fact, the Westmoreland-based team showed more in the attacking third in the latter stages, as they used the wide channels to good effect to provide services inside the danger area.

The tactic almost bore fruit in 74th when Akeem Kongal’s weighted cross was met by Jamaro Grant, who rose above defenders, but the effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by defender Isaac Mason to keep his team’s lead intact, and they saw off Frome from there.

Frome Technical’s Head coach Cleighton Stevens was gracious in defeat.

"First I have to say congratulations to McGrath on their victory, my boys put up a good fight, but it just wasn't our day. It was still a successful season and we just have to build on it going forward,” he said. 

Sherdon Cowan

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

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