GAA Football

Castleblayney face MacRory Cup baptism of fire against perennial contenders St Colman's

Tyrone minor Ronan Cassidy will be part of the St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon panel as they begin their MacRory Cup campaign with a Tyrone derby against last year's runners-up Holy Trinity, Cookstown Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.
Séamas McAleenan

Danske Bank MacRory Cup

OUR Lady’s, Castleblayney are the new kids on the block in the Danske Bank MacRory Cup this year. If tradition plays any part in their opening game today then they are really up against it.

Last year’s MacLarnon Cup runners-up face a baptism of fire against St Colman’s, Newry who have won more than a fifth of all the MacRory Cup titles over the 97 years since the competition began.

Violet Hill are perennial title contenders and with players such as Callum O’Neill, Patrick Ruddy and scoring threat Aaron O’Neill in their ranks they will again fancy their chances.

Our Lady’s are the third Monaghan school in action this week and have Kealan McKeever, Ultan McMahon, Kealan McMahon, Stephen Mooney and dangerous forward Max McGinnity from last year’s team definite starters while two others, Conor Ruddy and Charlie McQuillan are currently on the injury list.

The three Tyrone schools are involved in the two games this evening with plenty of interest in the derby in Eglish (7.30pm) between the Academy and last year’s beaten finalists Holy Trinity, Cookstown.

HTC have quite a few lads available who saw action last season including Luke Cullen, Conor and Conan Devlin, Shane Hughes, Mark Donnelly and Ruairí McHugh while a few younger players are pushing hard to get a start.

The Academy don’t look quite as strong despite the presence of 2021 county minor Ronan Cassidy and Ben Cullen who had a good season with Edendork seniors.

The third Tyrone side in action is Omagh CBS in Healy Park at 8pm when they take on St Michael’s, Enniskillen.

Omagh ran St Mary’s, Magherafelt close in last spring’s semi-final and still have a number of players from that team available including Tyrone minor captain Eoin McElholm, Conor Quinn and impressive wing half-back Matthew Farry, while Charlie Donnelly and a few others from last year’s Rannafast squad are ready to step up to join them.

Enniskillen of course will not have long term MacRory boss, Dominic Corrigan on the side-line this year. Instead Peter Teague will take the reins and he will look to defenders Kai McGoldrick and Josh Killelea, a probable midfield pairing of James Corry and Stephen O’Brien and forwards John Joe McDaid and Caoilte Farry to get them off to a decent start.

The last of the first round ties will throw in tomorrow afternoon in Desertmartin (2pm). That is where you will find the defending champions in action against St Patrick’s, Armagh, a replica of their opening game last year.

Five MacRory medallists are back in search of a second souvenir including Cargin’s Conhuir Johnstone, goalie James Gribbin, Niall O’Donnell and James Lavery. Unfortunately the fifth player, Ruairí Forbes, picked up a bad injury in the pre-season sevens and is out of action for the immediate future.

Armagh had a very young side out last year and they should be stronger this term with the likes of Ronan O’Hanlon, Tadhg Grimley, James Conlon and Padraig O’Keefe around the middle diamond. The test though is to prove that they have enough talent to make an impression on the competition. A win over the holders could push them on to greater things.

FIXTURES

Wednesday

St Colman’s, Newry v Our Lady’s, Castleblayney (Páirc Esler, 11.30am)

St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon v Holy Trinity, Cookstown (Eglish, 7.30pm)

Omagh CBS v St Michael’s, Enniskillen (O’Neills Healy Park, 8pm)

Thursday

St Mary’s, Magherafelt v St Patrick’s, Armagh (Desertmartin, 2pm)