Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Members of victorious St George's College Manning Cup team celebrate after defeating JC 2-0 in the final at the National Stadium yesterday. - Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer
ST GEORGE'S College were crowned champions of the ISSA/Pepsi Digicel Manning Cup following a 2-0 victory over Jamaica College (JC) in the final at the National Stadium yesterday.
In what is their first hold on the title since 1992 and their 19th overall, St George's were led to victory through a seventh-minute strike by forward Shamar Shelton, brother of national striker Luton, and a 71st effort by midfielder Dan Evans.
Both were flocked at the end of the game by flag-waving, drum-beating jubilant supporters.
"It feels great, wonderful to know that we are champions again," said a teary-eyed Neville Bell, coach of St George's, who was also at the helm in 1992.
"Winning in 1992 was special, especially when it's your first. But, back then, we were favourites. This year, at the start of the season, no one gave us a chance," Bell said.
"It was not until midway through the season that people started to look at us ... and to know that we were able to pull it off is an amazing feeling."
JC, who were seeking back-to-back titles, were put on the back foot from before the start of the game when it was revealed that they had to do without influential midfielders left wing D'Andre Brown and central midfielder Adrian Christian, who had both accumulated three yellow cards.
This provided the perfect fillip for St George's who, from the get go, took the game to the 'Dark Blues' and opened their account through the speedy and slippery Shelton.
In a give-and-go move between himself and the competition's leading goalscorer Kemal Malcolm, who ended with 23 goals, Shelton found himself in a good shooting position.
And, with the goalkeeper at his mercy, fired impressively to send a flurry of light blue and white flags waving throughout the venue.
Down, but not out, JC, hunting their 21st lien on the trophy, then came roaring back and for much of the half had the greater possession.
But, try as they might - especially through wily forward Ashani Walker, who was returning from a shoulder injury - they could not pierce St George's sturdy defence, which was ably marshalled by central defender Shawn Syblis.
The match then proceeded to the second half where JC brought on super substitute Nico Wright in the 60th minute. However, unlike in the quarter-final and semi-final rounds where he scored match-winning goals, Wright could not find his scoring boots, and two of his best efforts hit the crossbar and rebounded into play.
"Disappointed, disappointed, disappointed," was the response of JC manager Ian Forbes, who spoke in the absence of coach, Alfred Henry, and after the final whistle ventured on to the field to console his players.
"The balance of the game was always in St George's favour, given the fact we were without two of our best players. Credit to them, they took full advantage of the situation," Forbes said.
"It's frustrating when you have cards carrying over from the first round or other competitions like the Walker Cup ... it just was not our day."