D’Cup quartet negotiates way into semi-finals
MONTEGO BAY, St James — And then there were four.
Three-time champions St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS), the most successful school in ISSA rural area Under-19 football in the last half decade, former champions Frome Technical and Garvey Maceo High and two-time semi-finalists Port Antonio High are the last four schools left standing in the ISSA/LIME daCosta Cup schoolboys’ competition.
The foursome were decided following the quarter-finals that ended on Saturday with the expected sparks and will decide the finalists this coming weekend, Friday and Saturday, the first time the semi-finals will be separated since the competition started in 1950.
Garvey Maceo, who went all the way and won the double in 2007, will face 2003 champions Frome Technical at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz on Friday, while STETHS will face Port Antonio at Jarrett Park on Saturday.
Both games are set to start at 3:00 pm.
At the start of the season, very few would have picked Frome Technical, Port Antonio High and Garvey Maceo to still be in contention at this stage.
STETHS, winners of the last four Ben Francis KO and last season’s beaten finalists, were consensus semi-finalists at the start of the season and so far have lived up to expectations, despite some hiccups at the quarter-finals where they managed just two goals in three games. They were also held scoreless for the first time when they played Frome, snapping a 17-game run where they scored at least once in every game.
Goal machine Khesanio Hall has not scored in their last two games after racking up 34 in the 17-match run.
Port Antonio High won their first-round group, but were knocked out of the first round of the Ben Francis KO by Paul Bogle High. They then rebounded by winning all three games in the quarter-finals, scoring 15 goals in the process, the most by any school
to qualify for the quarter-finals.
After losing to Garvey Maceo in the first game of the quarter-finals, a big 3-0 win over Muschett High meant they only needed a point from Manchester High in their final game on Saturday to return to the semi-finals for the first time since 1992.
Garvey Maceo, nicknamed ‘Cubans’, were runners-up to last year’s winners Glenmuir in their first-round group, then used the two-week rest to prepare for the Inter-zone round, winning an arguably weak zone to qualify for the quarter-finals where they hit their strides and won their first two games and were able to cruise through to the semis.
Frome Technical had the toughest journey after failing to get one of the two automatic bids from the first round. The western Westmoreland school had to sweat through the wait for one of the best third place positions.
They just managed to scrape through the Inter-zone round on goal difference after two other schools — Paul Bogle High and Glenmuir — also finished on six points.
They were minutes away from being eliminated on Saturday before a last-minute goal from Jahmarley Brissett, earned them a 1-0 win over Marcus Garvey Technical, which effectively edged out Green Island High for the runner-up spot to STETHS.
A draw would have seen Green Island through to their first semi-finals in 17 years.
One of the shocks of the quarter-finals was Manchester High earning just a single point from their 0-0 draw against Port Antonio on Saturday after losing their previous two games to Muschett High and Garvey Maceo, both by 2-0 margins.
Manchester had successfully negotiated a tricky Inter-zone round, eliminating two other title favourites in Munro College and Clarendon College. They appeared at that point to be setting the stage for another meeting with STETHS, who had beaten them in the Ben Francis KO final.
The four games between the Ben Francis KO decider and the three Inter-zone games appeared to have exhausted Manchester High’s resources. However, the once potent team appeared a shadow in the final eighth phase, failing to score a goal.