Mageean Cup history…Forty years ago today

October 29, 2023

FORTY years ago today (29th October 1983), this team brought the Mageean Cup to St Patrick’s Maghera for the first time.

Back then the competition was run off as a round robin league without a final being played. However the two unbeaten schools, Maghera and St Louis Ballymena, happened to meet in the last game. Neither of the two schools had ever won the Cup previously and there was a big crowd turned up for the “final” in Bellaghy. As a consequence, it was decided that from then onwards the Mageean Cup would be decided as a knock-out competitions with semi-finals and a final.

There are a number of significant points about this team:

1. We think this is the only time that the team coach/manager was a brother of two of the players (including the captain).

2. Ten years later five of the starting team in Bellaghy would line out for Derry in their All-Ireland senior football success of 1993 – and two more would be on the Derry subs’ bench in Croke Park.

3. One player (not in the picture) had played in the 3-9 to 2-5 win over St Mary’s CBS earlier in the competition – but couldn’t play in the final game as he was already featuring for Derry senior footballers in the National League that weekend.

4. That player would become the youngest ever football All-star less than a year later. Three more of the team would become football All-stars and one of those Footballer of the Year and an All-Ireland winning captain.

5. Maghera would also win the MacRory Cup that year with a significant overlap of players

6. Three goals and three points from the 4-10 to 2-6 win over St Louis would be scored by a player whose brother would subsequently help Cross & Passion Ballycastle win six Mageean Cups and three All-Ireland hurling crowns

If you want to find out more about these players and the 70 years of senior hurling in Ulster’s schools, you can go along to a talk and slide-show by Séamas McAleenan on the history of the competition in St Louis Ballymena on Wednesday 6th December, two days before the final of the 71st Danske Bank Mageean Cup.