GAA Football

Patrician High hoping to cash in on rustiness of St Ronan's in MacRory quarter-final encounter

Sean McAlinden, captain of St Ronan's Lurgan, receives the McCormack Cup from Jimmy Smith after November's final victory
Picture by Jim Dunne
By Séamas McAleenan

Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-final

Wednesday 7.30pm in Athletic Grounds, Armagh

St Ronan's, Lurgan v Patrician High, Carrickmacross

THIS is a statistic that St Ronan’s, Lurgan won’t want to hear – the winners of each of the other three Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-finals were coming off a win in a play-off game at the end of January.

The teams that lost, like St Ronan’s, all qualified automatically from the league competition in November for the quarter-finals.

Indeed the Lurgan school, semi-finalists last season, went on to win the league and MacCormack Cup on the last day of November – but that was their last competitive outing.

Tonight, at the Athletic Grounds, they have to face a Patrician High, Carrickmacross team with new found confidence.

On the evening of the MacCormack Cup final, Patrician knocked St Patrick’s Academy out of the MacRory Cup after extra-time and last month shocked holders St Patrick’s, Maghera in a play-off.

They came back from a dreadful start when they went 1-6 to 0-2 down by conceding 1-4 without reply in a 10-minute spell. By half-time they had reeled Maghera in to 2-6 to 1-7 and Sean McEneaney’s goal on the restart set them on their way to an unexpected win.

David Garland had been earmarked in advance as a huge danger to Maghera’s ambitions – and he delivered on that potential with nine points in the Loup, five of them from open play.

Andrew Woods, Sean Burns and Dean Connolly all looked dangerous up front, while Maghera struggled against a defence well marshalled by Kieran Slavin.

St Ronan’s will be wary of their forward threat, but at the same time their team has impressed through the league and lifting the MacCormack Cup is bound to instil the belief that perhaps was not present last season when they surprised many to reach the semi-final and lost narrowly to St Paul’s Bessbrook.

Coach Micky Donnelly was pleased in November to get the opportunity to go for a piece of senior silverware, but this week his hopes were more in making sure his team are up to speed for a re-start to their campaign.

St Ronan’s are strong at the back with Allstars James McAlinden and Barry McCambridge in central positions and the latter may well pick up Garland. There is, of, course the possibility that McCambridge could start in midfield with Sean McAlinden at centre-back, as was the case in the MacCormack final.

Up front, Rioghan Meehan, Kevin McAlinden and Jack Lenehan were all in great form in the league, with Conor Turbitt linking well between defence and attack.

Aodhan McConville was expected to be a big part of St Ronan’s attack this year, but broke his collar bone in the opening league game and has only recently returned to full training.

He could well get a start here, or at least an extended period of time on the pitch, and his accuracy could be a factor in what is expected to be a tight enough game.

Because of their pre-Christmas form, St Ronan’s have to get the favourites’ tag, but Patrician will not fear them, having taken out the Academy and the holders to reach this stage – and then of course all the other three play-off winners delivered last weekend.

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