Strong Tyrone presence in MacRory Cup quarter-finals
Danske Bank MacRory Cup
THERE will be Tyrone interest in all four of the Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-finals happening over the next few days starting with an anticipated cracker in Healy Park tonight when Omagh CBS take on St Colman’s Newry.
Omagh qualified directly from their group where they won all three games and finished with a score difference of 42 points. By contrast St Colman’s ended up bottom of their group of three teams with narrow defeats by Our Lady’s, Castleblayney and St Patrick’s, Maghera.
That finish put St Colman’s into a derby play-off with their cross-city rivals Abbey CBS last week. Although the College finished with a 3-8 to 1-7 victory, two of the goals came at the death from the impressive Callum O’Neill and substitute Patrick Ruddy. Callum was also taken down for a penalty that Aaron O’Neill converted and the attacking half back also clipped over three points.
St Colman’s looked a completely different team than the one playing in the group stages and last week’s derby will also have helped them take another step forward. Whether that is enough to overcome Omagh CBS is up for debate as the west Tyrone side has played the most expansive football of all the teams in the competition.
Conor Owens, Ruairí McCullagh and Eoin McElholm have all impressed as the team swept forward in the group games. But it is doubtful they will get the same freedom of movement in a knock-out game even if they manage to get ahead early in the quarter-final.
Omagh will start as favourites, but St Colman’s right through their history in the competition have launched successes by edging games like this.
A second Tyrone school is in action at the same time; Holy Trinity Cookstown have to enter the lion’s den in Owenbeg to take on St Patrick’s Maghera, another group topper who didn’t have a game last week.
Holy Trinity ended the interest of St Patrick’s Cavan last weekend with second half goals from Brian Hampsey and Michael McElhatton and they won’t fear Maghera after overcoming them last year to claim their place in the final for the first time.
Ruairí McHugh and Conor and Cormac Devlin are once again their driving force and Maghera will need to focus on blunting this attacking threat.
Only one of the successful Dungiven minors, Eoin Higgins, is likely to start with a couple others struggling with injury since the St Paul’s tournament and it is quite likely that Ciarán Chambers and Sean Boyd will still carry the scoring threat.
Again the extra game might help Holy Trinity prepare for the tie, but it will still register as a surprise if they make it into the semi-final draw.
A few east Tyrone players will feature for holders St Mary’s Magherafelt tomorrow afternoon in Ballinderry against Patrician High Carrickmacross. St Mary’s topped a very competitive group on score difference, while Patrician came through the Monaghan derby play-off with Castleblayney a week ago.
Carrick have quite a few of last year’s winning MacLarnon Cup team still on board and that experience will help them cope in this game.
Despite losing Ruairí Forbes to injury in a pre-season tournament, the Convent have still been impressive with Niall O’Donnell and Conhuir Johnstone huge presences in the team while James Sargeant has stepped up from the Rannafast squad to claim a place.
So on form Omagh CBS, Maghera and Magherafelt should all be in the Cup for the semi-final draw after the game in Ballinderry.
The last of the quarter-finals, between St Patrick’s Academy and St Macartan’s Monaghan, has been delayed until Wednesday to allow Theo Lowe to complete his club season with Stewartstown. The winner should still have enough time to prepare for the semi-finals that are to be played on the last weekend of January.
Danske Bank MacRory Cup quarter-finals
Friday, January 13
Omagh CBS v St Colman’s, Newry (Healy Park, 7.30pm)
Owenbeg: St Patrick’s Maghera v Holy Trinity Cookstown
Saturday, January 14
St Mary’s ,Magherafelt v Patrician High, Carrickmacross (Ballinderry, 2pm)
Wednesday, January 18
St Macartan’s v St Patrick’s Academy (Monaghan Harps, 2pm)