St Columban’s and Moville CC chase Pat King Cup success

December 15, 2016

Danske Bank Pat King Cup: St Columban’s College, Kilkeel v Moville CC (Thursday, Trillick, 12pm)

IT’S entirely appropriate that the new Pat King Memorial Cup should be presented for the first time in Trillick at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U16 football decider.

A Trillick native, Pat won five Tyrone championship titles with the club, captaining them to the 1983 O’Neill Cup triumph. Pat was also a driving force for many years in Vocational Schools’ football with St Eugene’s Lisnaskea.

The first holders of the silverware named in his honour and donated by the Trillick club will come from either Down or Donegal.

St Columban’s, Kilkeel are the more familiar name challenging for provincial honours and they were also the first team to reach the final a fortnight ago after a 2-10 to 2-5 win over Ballybay CC.

Opponents Moville CC from the Inisowen peninsula only made it through their semi-final on Monday afternoon after a thrilling encounter with St Mary’s, Clady in Owenbeg.

They were six points in arrears at the break, but then went seven ahead by the three-quarter mark. They then allowed Clady back to draw level before finishing them off with late points from Finn McLaughlin and Evan Craig.

McLaughlin was the main reason for the change in fortune during the second half. He entered the tie as a substitute at the break, scored 2-3 and generally wreaked havoc any time the ball was in his vicinity.

Unsurprisingly he retains the full-forward spot in the team and that will allow the talented Josh Conlon to move to the half-forward line where he is a very effective user of possession.

St Mary’s were the first team from outside their own county that Moville faced during the campaign and it was to prove a step up for them, particularly as they were missing Ronan Bonner who broke his arm in the quarter-final against Mulroy College Milford.

Markus Braksis, Ronan Hoy and Rory Hirrell have kept the spine of the defence strong and the team as a unit has good support play and work-rate.

St Columban’s, Kilkeel may have been waiting over a fortnight for this final, but they have taken a more circuitous route there after losing the opening game by five points to St Mary’s, Clady and then drawing with Lismore Comprehensive.

After that, however, it has been an uphill curve with a win over La Salle putting them into a play-off with Lismore that they won by 4-10 to 1-8. There followed wins over Cavan, Derry and Monaghan schools to bring them to the decider.

Kilkeel’s progress has been more a collective team effort rather than any standout individuals. Their full-backs are fast and mobile, while midfielders Tyrone Fegan and Chris Flanagan are strong workers with different players stepping up to the scoring duties in different games.

Longstone’s Christopher Burden has played a captain’s role and a bit of family history will be made if St Columban’s win since his father, Chris, captained the school to an Arthurs’ Cup title in 1991.

However, Moville lost a final last year with this group of players and will be determined to make use of their second chance. How well Kilkeel handle McLaughlin could well determine the outcome.

Published in The Irish News 15th December 2016