Hurling and camogie

St Patrick's, Knock forward power may outrun St Pius X, Magherafelt

Séamas McAleenan

Fr Davies Cup final: Wednesday Dec 12 at 6pm in UUJ: Our Lady's and St Patrick's, Knock v St Pius X, Magherafelt

THE semi-finals of the Fr Davies' Cup a fortnight ago were played in contrasting weather conditions and produced contrasting pathways to this evening's final in UUJ between St Pius X, Magherafelt and Our Lady's and St Patrick's, Knock.

Knock had to come from an interval deficit of 2-6 to 1-0 against St Patrick's, Keady and they even conceded a goal right at the start of the second half.

But they had all the elements in their favour.

Knock All-star Blanaid Savage moved into midfield from centre-half back and got the comeback under way.

The introduction of Tara Monan from the bench and the pace of Beth Coulter in the corner all combined to add impetus, but it wasn't until the last ten minutes that they overtook the south Armagh side. All three Ballygalget players scored second half goals.

There are two or three others from Ballygalget starting for Knock including Niamh Dempster at midfield and Dempster, Coulter and Monan were key players in the schools' under 16 team that reached the Corn Eimhear final for the first time at Halloween, but they couldn't prevent another title going to Ballycastle.

Bredagh, Portaferry, Ballycran and St Enda's are other clubs back-boning the Knock surge towards the top competition at senior level next year.

Just like Knock, St Pius X have never won the Fr Davies' Cup although they have contested four of the last six finals without making it over the line. This year however there seems to be a steely determination to take the title.

Their group games were won handily enough and the first half of the semi-final with last year's beaten finalists St Killian's Garron Tower was fought on the front foot, although they would have been a little disappointed with an interval lead of 1-6 to 1-0.

However they contested ball in every area of the field during the second half and defenders such as Claire McCartney, Nicole Nugent and Grace Mulholland emerged time and again from defence in possession.

They held their opponents to just three points over the half hour to reach the final.

The three defenders are members of the Newbridge club team that contested the All-Ireland Féile na nGael Division 1 final four years ago and there are a few more from the club through the team including promising forward Dervla Stinson.

A key player as well is Bellaghy's Sarah Cassidy who was one of Derry's top players in their 2018 season that saw them win the Ulster under 16 title and reach the All-Ireland final.

Her dad and former Derry football manager Damian is helping out with preparing the team this year.

The final promises to be an interesting mix.

Knock have fast forwards who punish opponents when they have the momentum, while St Pius X are probably stronger defensively.

A new name will go on the trophy after this final and a new school will move up to senior A camogie next season.

Knock have the forward power to run up the scores once they break the Magherafelt shield to get ahead.

OLSP Knock: A Kane, H Toner, H Dorrian, M Dorrian, T Monan, B Savage capt, A Clarke, A McCarville, N Dempster, A McCamphill, A Bell, C Kane, A McKee, A Brentnall, B Coulter.

Subs: A McCreanor, O Blaney, A Coulter, M Ennis, O McCarvill, L McKee, S Clancy, O Wilson, C Gilmore, N McMullan, E Clancy

St Pius X: C Martin, S McGrath, C McCartney, K Letters, G Mulholland, N Nugent, E O'Neill, A Cassidy, C Traynor, D Stinson, E Doherty, A McGlone, C Kearns, A Conlon, R Rocks

Subs: L McVey, T Rocks, C McVey, S Spiers, A McKenna, E McToal, K Niblock, T Murphy, M O'Neill, C McNabb

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