Paul Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Former champions Glenmuir High will have another chance at glory when they meet St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in next Saturday's final of the 2012 ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup schoolboy football competition, thanks to a first half hat-trick from Noel Johnson that handed them a 3-0 win over The Manning's School.
STETHS, however, had to battle hard for their victory over Frome Technical, with the Westmoreland school taking the game into extra-time before STETHS sealed a 1-0 win when Carl Campbell netted in the 104th minute.
Johnson ripped The Manning's School's defence to shreds two minutes apart to find the net in the 10th and 11th minutes, then added his team's third in time added for stoppages in the first half.
Manning's, who admitted having a bad day in last Wednesday's quarter-final, ended up having one too many bad days against the tireless Glenmuir.
"We lost today but I still feel good about what we achieved this year," said Aaron Lawrence, The Manning's School's head coach.
"Making the semi-final was a great achievement, nobody expected us to reach this far so, next year, we will be back," Lawrence offered.
The game started with Glenmuir in a no-nonsense mood and it came as little surprise when Johnson found the inside of the net to put the Patrick 'Jackie' Walters-coached team ahead.
Manning's never knew what hit them and went further behind with another telling strike from Johnson, in the very next minute.
From there on Glenmuir were in control with the dynamic midfielder Ricardo Dennis pulling the strings, while terrorising the Manning's defence. Then in minute 45, Johnson popped up again inside the area to score his third, as Glenmuir pulled away.
Manning's tried desperately to get a goal back and came mighty close in the 60th minute when their captain, Melvin Blair, fired wide of goal.
Glenmuir will now turn their attention to the final against STETHS with great expectations of lifting the daCosta Cup again, having not done so since 2007, while the Omar Wedderburn-coached STETHS team is seeking to extend their success this season. Having already claimed the Ben Francis Knockout trophy, they are in line to capture the daCosta Cup and the Olivier Shield.
"We played in patches, but Frome did well and we did better in the second half, so hats off to the guys who have been playing excellently all season long," stated Wedderburn.
"Two teams in the final going for the win; it will be a bang with two teams chasing a little history. We will be ready," Wedderburn noted.