St Louis fancied for Gallagher Cup title but St Patrick's no pushovers
Danske Bank Gallagher Cup final: Tuesday 1.15pm in Ahoghill: St Louis, Ballymena v St Patrick's, Maghera
WHEN someone scores six goals and seven points in a semi-final, you can expect that their next opponents will be forming some kind of plan to deal with that threat in the final.
That is the situation facing holders St Patrick's, Maghera as they go about defending their Danske Bank Gallagher Cup title in today's final in Ahoghill.
A couple of weeks ago St Louis, Ballymena swept aside the challenge of their north Antrim neighbours Cross and Passion, Ballycastle on a 10-15 to 1-6 score-line and Loughgiel corner-forward Ronan McCollum bagged more than half the winners' total.
Maghera already knew about the danger McCollum poses as they lost their group game to St Louis, but significantly they recovered to see off a fancied St Killian's, Garron Tower team on a 3-9 to 1-8 score-line.
The key to that success was getting a good start.
Player of the Match Eamon Cassidy and Jack Dunne pointed and then full forward Niall Barton grabbed the opening goal all in the opening three minutes. And they held on to that lead through the opening half while a goal from Cassidy at the start of the second half gave them the boost to complete the job.
Cassidy went on to top-score with 1-5 and he was well supported by Joseph McCullagh and Eoin Scullion, while the rest of the team did what you expect from Maghera teams at that stage of a competition, they really put the pressure on in one-on-one battles.
Ballymena were expected to beat Cross and Passion, but not by the amount they did and the excellent Ronan McCollum was just one of a lively Kintullagh attack with Oisin McCamphill, Tom McFerran, Dara Martin and TP McGurk all finding the net.
Ciaran McQuillan brought off a few good saves in goals and All Saints club-mate Aodhan McGarry looks a super prospect in defence while Kevin O'Boyle drove his team forward from midfield.
Even disregarding the emphatic nature of the semi-final score-line, St Louis would have been going into this final as clear favourites. The danger is that the semi-final may have made them a little complacent approaching a re-match with a Maghera side that is gaining in confidence and had to battle their way into the decider.
St Louis should win. But Maghera can give them a fright.
Probable starting teams:
St Louis: C McQuillan, T McCann, P Patterson, C McAuley, S Moore, A McGarry, C Laverty, D Patterson, K O'Boyle, T McFerran, O McCamphill, D Martin, R McCollum, TP McGurk, J McCloskey.
St Patrick's: F O'Connell, T McCormick, E Scullion 0-1, D McDermott, D McGurk, A McLaughlin, A Duffin, J McGroarty, J McCullagh, M Mullan, J Dunne, F McEldowney, E Cassidy, N Barton, C Bradley.