Repeat of 2015 MacNamee Cup final – preview

October 20, 2016

Danske Bank MacNamee Cup final


Friday 3pm in Ballymena

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

Exactly a year ago to the day, St Killian’s brought the first Danske Bank MacNamee Cup to Garron Tower in a quarter of a century, defeating St Patrick’s Maghera by 2-12 to 0-5.

Both schools have made it back to the decider, but this time St Patrick’s Maghera are being tipped as the team to lift the title following astrong run through the qualifiers that included a 3-6 to 2-7 win over St Killian’s.

Maghera were more impressive in winning the Danske Bank Thompson Shield in June but that league win over St Killian’s gave the Antrim coast team an extra game in the competition and it seems to have benefited them with a high-scoring quarter-final win over Cross and Passion and then a hard-fought 3-12 to 4-6 defeat of Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock last Tuesday.

However the semi-final also flagged up a flaw in that they tend to struggle with more physically imposing teams and their final opponents are just that.

There is no doubting the hurling skills of the Tower boys but, apart from one or two, they can struggle with bigger players in the tackle.

Sean McIntosh is their only player to have started last year’s final, but others such as Padraig McKillop, Niall McGarrell and Daniel Kearney came in regularly as subs during that campaign and all four are key parts in St Killian’s defence of the title.

Yyounger players such as the McSparran twins, Joe McNaughton and Francis McCormick have come in this season to nail down starting spots.

But Maghera scored 9-13 in winning their semi-final and will be a big obstacle in the final.

They have no fewer than five players who started the final last Halloween – Raymond Dillon and Shea McKenna in defence, Jody McDermott at midfield and Callum O’Kane and Niall Duggan up front – and that experience has stood to them in this season’s campaign.

McDermott hit an impressive 3-6 in the semi-final and how St Killian’s cope with him could have a big bearing on the eventual outcome.

Garron Tower might be holders and determined to keep a grip on the Cup – but Maghera have had the more impressive run to the final and should win back the title.

Probable teams

St Killian’s : Joe McNaughton, Francis McCormick, Odhran Gillan, Jack Leech, Aidan McSparron, Colm McKeegan, Caolan Lennon, Niall McGarrell, Shane McKenna, Daniel Kearney, Pádraig McKillop, Joshua Schnell, Patrick McIlwaine, Seanie McIntosh, Conor McAuley.

Subs : Daniel McAllister, Ciaran Sharpe, Ben O’Boyle , John V Morgan, Brogan O’Connor, Michael Quinn da, Archie McSparran, Matthew McCann da, Ronan Leech, Mark McSparran, Killian McNaughton

St Patrick’s : Eoin Scullion, Cormac Mullan, Thomas O’Neill, James Friel, Shea McKenna, Raymond Dillon, Setanta McLaughlin, Jodie McDermott, Callum O’Kane, Niall Duggan, Calum Downey, Conor Murtagh, Conor Murray, Peter McCullagh, Charlie McCloskey.

Subs: Dara McGill, Dara McGuigan, Patrick Reid, Paul Óg Turner, Ryan O’Neill, Jude McGill, Pádraig Quinn, Patrick Brown, Ryan Skelly, Eoin Hassan, Thomas McKeagney, Ryan Doherty, Peadar Hardy, Aimon Duffin, Eamon Cassidy, Shea Kelly, Dara Mulholland, Patrick McGurk.