Grays Inn are St Mary Major League champions after penalty shoot-out win over Axum SC

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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Annotto Bay, St Mary — Grays Inn SC scored a dramatic 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Axum SC in the final of the JP St Mary's/St Mary Football Association Major League at Westmoreland Oval on Sunday.

The teams played out a 1-1 full and extra time draw before goalkeeper Tevin Tucker saved the penultimate Axum spot kick. Substitute Adrian Smith then ensured victory when he put away the final spot kick for Grays Inn to help them get over the disappointment of their performance in the Super League.

Kelvin Williams had earlier given Grays Inn a first-half lead before Hellilide Dean equalised early in the second half. With no further goals, even after 30 minutes of extra time the game had to be decided from 12 yards where Grays Inn held their nerve to win.

Howard Malcolm, captain of Grays Inn SC, was pleased with the determined efforts of his teammates to end the season.

“It's been a hard fight from the Super League, we didn't win a game so we decided that we were going to train hard for the Major League…and we came out victorious today, it's overwhelming.”

Omar Pickersgill, coach of Grays Inn, was overjoyed after lifting the title.

“I am overwhelmed. After a poor performance in the Super League, we planned to take the Major League. Today's game was a high-intensity type of game, but I think the Axum team is a good team. It's always a rivalry. I think it was a good turnout and a good show for the crowd.”

Pickersgill took time out to laud the sponsors for their continued support of football in the parish.

“Hats off to JP for their sponsorship, it's a good look. We hope to have them back here for next season.”

Highgate United beat Albion Mountain 3-2 in the third-place play-off.

Errol Buchanan, captain of Highgate United, was happy his team was able to claim the third-place prize after enduring a tough season.

“It was a little intense but I told my teammates to work as a team and protect each other and if we work as one we can come out as winners and we did it.

“It was a challenging season this year. We lost a number of key players at different stages of the season that caused us to lose games we shouldn't have, but that's football, you can't win everything. We are grateful that JP St Mary's has continued to provide their support this season.”

Kenroy Reid, Highgate United coach, was also happy for the win.

“It's an accomplishment for us. We predicted a 3-1 win, however a win is a win. It was a tactical game because we had many players playing in a number of positions. We are grateful for the win.”

Junior Walters coach of Albion Mountain rued the loss but promised to return with a more determined effort next year.

“This season wasn't our season; we have to go back to the training ground and come back again next season. We were in rebuilding mode this season, but we will be back stronger next year.”

President of the Jamaica Football Federation Michael Ricketts said that based on the evidence of what he had seen at the final on Sunday, football in the eastern side of Jamaica was on the improve.

“I am very, very excited that the prospects of what will happen in eastern Jamaica based on what I saw this evening. I think the game was really worthy of being a final, it was very competitive —went down to penalties. I must congratulate both teams. the quality of the football was good, and it certainly augurs well for football in eastern Jamaica.

“JP St Mary's has been sponsors now for a few years, and I must use this opportunity to say thanks to them.”

Janene Wright, brand and sponsorship manager for JP St Mary's, said what must be music to the ears of all persons associated with football in the parish.

“We thought that today went really, really well. It was very well supported today, and I must congratulate both teams for an exemplary performance in good sportsmanship. The parish of St Mary is home to us and JP St Mary's is big on community building and what better way to do it than through our investment in sports development. We are just very proud of what we have seen throughout the competition and will continue to build on this special relationship that we have with the St Mary Football Association in making next year an even greater event.”

James Pearson, president of the St Mary FA, was happy for the growth of the league, the support of his executive, and most importantly the role played by his title sponsors in enduring a successful season.

“We are grateful because this is really a team effort. I must thank the executive of the St Mary FA, the competition's committee which is led by Raymond Anderson, and moreover our big sponsors JP St Mary's.

“Last year we had eight teams in the league and this year we have 11. The winners will be a part of the next Super League play-offs.”

By virtue of winning the title Grays Inn will automatically advance to the Super League, but there will be some discussions among the executive to determine which other teams will advance along with the champions.

As the lights dimmed on Westmoreland Oval, Joseph Boota of Albion Mountain Sports Club copped Most Valuable Player and Top Goal Scorer with 11 goals; Top Goalkeeper went to Tevin Tucker of Grays Inn Sports Club; and Most Disciplined Team went to Star Cosmos.

Third-place finishers Highgate United walked away with bronze medals and $80,000 cash prize courtesy of JP St Mary's, while second place Axum Sports Club received silver medals and $100,000 cash prize courtesy of JP St Mary's; And Grays Inn Sports Club lifted the champion trophy, gold medals and $120,000 cash prize courtesy of JP St Mary's.

JP St Mary's has sponsored the competition to the tune of $800,000 and added a nutritional element of ripe bananas which were provided to each team for every match.

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