By Phil Caplan, Date:9/6/13
Beirutâ€™s St. Josephâ€™s School has been crowned 2013 Lebanon GMEA Champions after a 36-6 victory against northerners Namouzaj Public School. Even getting the match on was a triumph considering the prevailing security situation that has locked down many parts of Tripoli, as the Syrian crisis continues to spill into and affect Lebanon.
The visitors managed to travel but they were unable to replicate the form that saw them take out the GMEA North School Championship the previous week, and were ultimately outscored by seven tries to one.
Namouzajâ€™s Khaled Mekan answered Elie Azziâ€™s 17th minute opener in a heated start that saw both coaches sent to the stands to cool their heels, but after Richard Haddadâ€™s score moments before the break the Beirut zone champions never looked back.
St. Josephs opened up a 26-6 margin with a whirlwind ten minute spell and Jonas Muataâ€™s late 80-metre try set off their celebrations.
St. Josephâ€™s coach Nayed Abi Said lauded his side’s performance. “I thought it was the toughest we’ve played all season,â€ he commented. â€œWhen you play in finals, you always have borderline contests, but the way we played in the first quarter set it up for the rest of the match.â€
The real story, though, centres on Namouzaj and their Coach Nader Mgheit had the highest praise for his playersâ€™ effort. â€œThe boys will take plenty of positives out of the game,â€ he noted. â€œI didnâ€™t even know if we were going to have enough players to field a team today because of the crisis in Tripoli. Some of the boys had to sneak alone in the streets under sniper fire just to get to the pickup point, while others just couldnâ€™t risk it.â€
â€œIf it wasnâ€™t for our captain Omar Marhaba, we wouldnâ€™t have turned up today as he rounded them up one by one. They are all winners in my eyes.â€