Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola set to meet St Ronan's in McDevitt Cup final
Dankse Bank McDevitt Cup final: Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola, Falcarragh v St Ronan’s, Lurgan (Friday, Owenbeg, 12pm)
LAST year’s first attempt at the Dankse Bank MacRory Cup may have ended at the semi-final stage, but a spark was certainly lit in the new St Ronan’s College, Lurgan, with MacCormack Cup success following this term.
However, many of those who collected MacCormack medals a fortnight ago picked up McDevitt Cup medals in 2013-4 while pupils in St Paul’s, one of the schools that fed into the new St Ronan’s amalgamation. Indeed, Republic of Ireland soccer international Marc Wilson was a goal-scorer in the only other McDevitt Cup winning team from Lurgan.
This McDevitt Cup team has had a relatively easy run through to Friday's final in Owenbeg, averaging six goals per game in the league stages against other Armagh schools. The knockout games proved tight enough, a 4-9 to 5-5 win over St Columba’s, Glenties and then a narrow 1-11 to 2-5 rematch with St Joseph’s, Crossmaglen in the semi-finals.
Joseph McConville and Hugh Hannon have been sound in defence, while team captain Oisín McAliskey gets through a mountain of work at midfield. Ronan O’Hagan has been the star man up front, but he is injured and, although he will start the game, his impact is not expected to be as big as in previous games and that means that Niall Green and Oisín Ginesi will be required to pull the slack.
Opponents Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola, a small school that straddles the Gaeltacht area around Falcarragh, are surprise finalists, mainly because their players are drawn from just two clubs - St Michael’s and Cloich Cheannfhaola.
However, they won all four group games and had a comfortable win over Holy Cross Strabane in the quarter-final, before surviving an epic semi-final with Loreto, Coleraine that finished on 2-9 each. PCC pulled away in the second-half of extra-time though, to win by five points.
The Cloich Cheannfhaola club supplies six of the seven defenders, with Keenan Gallagher and Shaun Curran the most impressive. Carlos O’Reilly and Conor Coyle have forged a strong midfield partnership and Ciaran Mulhern is a real threat at full-forward.
St Ronan’s, on paper, look to have the stronger panel of players, but the fitness of Ronan O’Hagan could be an issue. The small base from which PCC has drawn their players has forged a strong bond between them and they will not give up the opportunity easily.
This has the ingredients to be a cracking game of football.
St Ronan’s: E Magee, C Skelton, J McConville, H Hannon, J Hannon, L Russell, J Hannon, O McAliskey, N Dummigan, C McGibbon, O Ginesi, N Greene, R Mulholland, N Crilly, J Moore; Subs: L Lennon, L Crawford, O Meehan, C McCullagh, PJ McKeown, L Shanks, L McCavigan, P Magennis, J Millar, B Walsh, S Donnelly, O McMahon, D McCluskey, F Duffy, O McGibbon, R O’Hagan
PCC, Falcarragh: C Coll, K Doogan, S Curran, D Ferry, M Harkin, K Gallagher, K Boyle, C O’Reilly, C Coyle, N Toye, B McGarvey, C Doogan, T Doherty, C Mulhern, P Johnston; Subs: O Craig, N Doogan, S Ferry, R Moran, J Geaney, E Doherty, A Hunter, O Toye, D Doherty, J Scanlon, O McGinley, S Cannon, D Coll, C Mac Íomhair, P Scott, O Doogan, M O’Reilly, J Bagura, A Hall