St Joseph's, Donaghmore boss Niall Kelly says his side are ready for step up to MacRory Cup

St Jospeh’s, Donaghmore celebrate last season’s MacLarnon Cup victory
St Jospeh’s, Donaghmore celebrate last season’s MacLarnon Cup victory St Jospeh’s, Donaghmore celebrate last season’s MacLarnon Cup victory

Danske Bank MacRory Cup Group C, round one

St Joseph’s, Donaghmore v Holy Trinity, Cookstown (Friday, Galbally, 3pm)

NIALL Kelly is preparing a team from St Joseph’s Donaghmore to participate in the Danske Bank MacRory Cup for the first time.

The Portglenone clubman took them to the MacLarnon and All-Ireland titles last year, completing a meteoric rise for the former convent school who only took in boys 20 years ago.

It took a few years before they had enough players to enter a team in competition. Now they begin their MacRory campaign today when they take on the beaten finalists for the past two seasons – Holy Trinity, Cookstown.

“What we want to do is stay up here in the MacRory and be competitive,” says Kelly.

“Two years ago when most of these boys were in fifth-year, we set out to win the MacLarnon. They were competing in the Rannafast Cup at their own age group and we got to the semi-final of it.

“We were a bit disappointed that we didn’t go further in the MacLarnon, but we made up for it last year and we maybe have around half that team available for the MacRory.

“The cups and everything were great last year, but that is very much in the past now. We won’t get anything on the back of last year’s performances. This is a step up alright and we have got ourselves a tough group, but where are the easy teams in the MacRory?”

After playing Holy Trinity, Donaghmore move on to games against Our Lady’s, Castleblayney and St Patrick’s, Cavan.

“Holy Trinity have been in the last two MacRory finals and that will be a big challenge for us. The boys know all the Cookstown players from underage county squads and from playing against them at club level.

“A few years ago they were where we are now; they won the MacLarnon and moved up to MacRory. Playing in the MacRory has been a dream for our boys for a couple of years now. That is where we wanted to be. The boys are buzzing about it. Now we have to prove we are worthy of being there. 

“It hasn’t been easy to fit school training around all the club games at the minute, but I suppose all school teams are the same. Our aim is to get out of that group and see where it takes us.”

Kelly, a business studies teacher in the school, wasn’t to be drawn on whom to avoid or where the top teams in the competition are.

“We have to play these three games. We have no control over what other teams are doing. If we get out of the group, we will look at the next team then, but at the moment our first game, Holy Trinity, is the only team we will be thinking about.”