St George's defend Manning Cup title
StGC snare 22nd Manning Cup crown
ST Georges College (STGC) whipped Hydel High, 3-0, to capture their 22nd lien on the Inter Secondary Schools Association (ISSA)/Gatorade/Digicel Manning Cup title in convincing fashion at the National Stadium yesterday.
Goals by National Under-20 players Andre 'LA' Lewis (30th), Zhelano Barnes (32nd) and right-back Jerondu Henry (77th) propelled the 'Light Blues' to a remarkable fourth title in five years.
Incidentally, both Lewis and Barnes were the only scorers for Jamaica at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico last year. Lewis scored against Argentina and Barnes against France.
The school motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (For the Greater Glory of God), echoed throughout the Grandstand as the 162-year-old insitution totally dominated and handed a lesson in footbaall to a Hydel team that was playing in its first final.
STGC, who first won the title 100 years ago in 1912, have closed the gap to just two titles behind Jamaica College, the most successful school with 24 crowns.
Neville 'Bertis' Bell, who guided St Georges to yet another title, told the Jamaica Observer that this was a sweet victory.
"This one is very special for us because we lost a number of players last year and at the start of season I thought we had a suspect defence, but as the season continued they formed together a good defensive unit," said Bell.
The astute coach, who was winning his fifth title following his first truimph 20 years ago in 1992, the same year Hydel was formed, as well as in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, said all this would not have been possible if he did not have good players around.
"I thank God for to be a successful coach because I have good players. I wouldn't have won anything if I never had good players. These are outstanding young players and they played really good football," he pointed out.
"For the last few years we have been playing really good football and thats what I asked of them. We talked about moving the ball, passing the ball and at the start of the season I asked them who played the best football and they said Barcelona.
"I said, let's try to play like Barcelona. We're not there yet, but it feels good to see them pass the ball around," said Bell.
And pass the ball around they did. It was an all-female refereeing team and when Cardella Samuels signalled the start of the game, St Georges came out full of running, bossing possession, while Hydel were compacted at the back and relied on the counter-attack.
The game came to life in the 26th minute when Hydel's Tajah Small tested Nico Campbell in goal with a 20-metre free kick.
St Georges responded in no uncertain manner, scoring twice in two minutes, stunning the first-time finalists.
A Cordel Benbow cross slipped past several players and found Lewis at the back post, who controlled, dummied, cut inside a few defender and calmly fired home from close range in the 30th.
Before the dust could settle, Romario Jones picked out Barnes with a quick free kick and with the Hydel players apparently caught off guard, the former Excelsior player rammed home in the 32nd as pandomonium broke loose.
The vuvuzelas had now brought the noise level to a crescendo as the marauding Georgians sensed yet another victory at the end of the first half.
Hydel offered little at the start of the half and with Lewis and Benbow delighting the fans with their trickery, along with the calm passing of Mark Brown and Jones, the writing was on the wall.
But Hydel showed a little spark when Horlando Palmer crashed a 30m shot onto the crossbar in the 65th.
Bell responded by bringing on the lethal Kendon Anderson in 70th, and a minute later, Benbow found the back of the net.
His effort was ruled offside but ignorant to the fact, Benbow and at least five teammates were celebrating on the cycle track when Hydel resumed play, caught them off guard and almost scored.
That seemed to have irritated the 'Light Blues' and they took the game to Hydel in no uncertain manner, creating chance after chance.
Henry then popped up from wing-back to slot home in the 77th, putting the icing on the cake in an impressive display deserving of champions.
It was the third time both schools were meeting after playing to a 1-1 draw in the opening game of the competition at Jarret Park and battling to a 1-1 draw in the return second-round group match.
Hydel, playing in their third year in the Manning Cup, will be better for this experience, however, and with a good sports programme going, will be back.
Losing coach Geoffrey Maxwell said his team played too deep in the first half, which wasn't their style. But having reached the final, he said "it was a good year for the school".