Abbey CBS and St Patrick’s, Dungannon to get MacRory Cup underway

October 14, 2016

Danske Bank MacRory Cup: Abbey CBS v St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon (Friday, 2pm, Abbey CBS); Patrician High, Carrickmacross v St Mary’s, Magherafelt (Saturday, 11am, Pearse Óg, Armagh); St Paul’s, Bessbrook v St Ronan’s, Lurgan (Saturday, 11.30am, Dromintee) 

ABBEY CBS and St Patrick’s, Dungannon have the honour of getting the 94th edition of the MacRory Cup underway on Friday at 2pm in the Abbey grounds.

Neither team is being spoken about in terms of going all the way to the St Patrick’s Day showdown – but no-one gave St Paul’s Bessbrook much of a chance at the start of last year’s competition and they reached the final.

Abbey are hoping they get off to a better start than 12 months ago, something that set the tone for a poor league campaign. They have two county minors from each of Burren. Mayobridge and Warrenpoint, who along with Blain McGrath and Dromintee’s Niall Courtney should give them a solid foundation.

However, the Academy is a stiff opener for them although, unlike many of their panels of the recent past, the east Tyrone outfit has just three players with experience of playing in the county minor team – Paul Donaghy, Jude Campbell, Brian McNulty. Neither school has reached the latter stages of competitions through their school careers, but the winner here could take confidence from today and progress further.

On Saturday morning, many eyes will be on what develops in Pearse Óg, Armagh between two teams that are expected to cause a few waves in the competition. Patrician High, Carrickmacross are up with the big boys for the first time – but have come up as winners with the MacLarnon and Rannafast Cups in their possession from a very productive 2015-6 season.

They were very composed in making their way through to the Rannafast title last season, particularly in the patience and structure they held in the semi-final win over St Patrick’s Maghera and then the style in winning the final against their neighbours St Macartan’s who came into the game as holders.

Two years ago St Macartan’s defeated St Mary’s Magherafelt to take their first Rannafast title in many seasons. So the south Derry school should also be near enough the mark at MacRory level. A lot will be asked of Declan Cassidy, Kevin Small, Liam Quinn and Conor McCloskey if the Convent are to pick up the points.

The Armagh derby in Dromintee starts half-an-hour later (11.30am) and should also be quite interesting – a repeat of the semi-final clash back at the end of February. Each team has a few survivors and as many as eight played on the Armagh minor side this season.

St Ronan’s took a while to establish themselves in last year’s MacRory, but it shouldn’t take them as long this year with a squad that includes the group that took the school to the Rannafast semi-final last November. However, St Paul’s won February’s semi-final and will be difficult enough to knock off their stride if they get going early enough in this game.

The Omagh CBS v St Colman’s Newry game has been postponed until Monday afternoon (4.30pm in Pearse Óg, Armagh), while the first games in Group C are not scheduled until next weekend.

Séamas McAleenan  published in Irish News 14th October 2016