Maghera can topple the Tower in decider

March 25, 2016

Glenravel, 12pm Saturday

St Patrick’s Maghera v St Killian’s Garron Tower

The Danske Bank Foresters’ Cup competition has been fairly competitive this season but it is pre-competition favourites St Patrick’s Maghera and unbeaten St Killian’s Garron Tower who are through to contest today’s (SATURDAY) final in Glenravel

St Killian’s are in their fifth successive final and this is their third meeting at that stage with St Patrick’s, with the head-to-heads yielding one win each to date.

The Antrim coast school is unbeaten in the competition, although they drew with Cross & Passion Ballycastle in their opening league game.

Maghera also had an inauspicious start, a four points’ defeat to a resurgent St Louis Ballymena. But they have gone from strength to strength since that opening day last month.

In the quarter-final, they drew St Mary’s Belfast who have been their main protagonists at this age-group. St Mary’s beat them to take the MacNamee title, but were turned over by Maghera in both the Gallagher and Leonard deciders.

In the Foresters’ quarters a fortnight ago however, goals from Richie Mullan and Tiarnan McHugh eased Maghera through to a 2-15 to 3-5 victory and they followed on from that to beat Cross & Passion Ballycastle by 3-13 to 2-11 with Mullan and McHugh once more hitting the net.

The pair have also seen action this season with the school’s MacRory team, along with Niall McNicholl, Odhrán McGill, Tiarnan Walsh and Peadar McLaughlin and have a Croke Park showdown for the Hogan Cup next Saturday.

They are the spine of this hurling team and overall the squad is a strong outfit with quite a few involved in a successful Kevin Lynch’s Féile team a couple of seasons ago.

This is the first time that this St Killian’s group has featured in a Colleges’ final although Ed McQuillan, Francis McCurry, James Morgan and Ronan McCambridge saw action in last year’s campaign that ended with defeat to St Mary’s Belfast in the decider.

They beat St Mary’s in the league at the start of March and eased past Divis schools to set up a derby semi-final last Friday with St Louis.

The Ballymena side looked like clear winners for 45 minutes or more until Niall Allen scrambled home the only goal of the game and that gave the Tower boys the impetus to push on to a 1-12 to 0-13 victory.

All four from last year’s team played key roles in pressurising St Louis’ defence, while their own defence was able to eventually cut out the earlier threat of Seaan Elliott.

Maghera have a lot more options and power in their forward line and that will really test St Killian’s at the back, where injuries to Ruairi and Declan McAuley and Finlay Walker have left them a little somewhat threadbare.

It looks like another Cup heading to Maghera.

St Killian’s (probable): Paul McMullan, Ruairi McAuley, Tomas Scally, Declan McAuley, Conleth O’Loan, Caolan O’Connor, Aidan McKenna, Ed McQuillan capt., Francis McCurry, Ronan McCambridge, James Morgan, Sean McKay, Dan O’Boyle, Ciaran Mulvenna, Niall Allen

Subs : Finlay Walker, Murray Emerson, Niall Black, Shane Black, Matthew Killough, Liam Walsh, Ruairi McCollam, Ronan Donnelly, Aidan Dunne

St Patrick’s: Eoin Mulholland, Martin Doherty, Niall McNicholl, Shane McMullan, Sean McCloskey, Tiarnan Walsh, Odhran Magill, Michael McEldowney, Martin Quinn, Richie Mullan, Peadar McLaughlin, Conor Campbell, Declan Quinn, Tiarnan McHugh, Ruairi Rafferty.
Subs: Daithi McLaughlin, Sean óg O’Kane, Ciaran Hendry, Michael McCormick, Conor Diamond, Paddy Convery, Dara Simpson, Padraig O’Kane, Dara Craig, Peter Gribbon, Luke Gribbon, Eoghan Lavery, James O’Kane, Cahir Gribbon, Padraig Quigg, Ryan Mulholland, Fergal Cassidy