Hurling & Camogie

Red High coach reveals Limerick influence on historic Mageean Cup success

The St Patrick's, Downpatrick team after their Mageean Cup final win over St Pat's, Maghera on Friday night at the Dub Arena<br />Picture: Philip Magowan/PressEye
The St Patrick's, Downpatrick team after their Mageean Cup final win over St Pat's, Maghera on Friday night at the Dub Arena
Picture: Philip Magowan/PressEye

TWO of Limerick’s All-Ireland winning side had an influence on St Patrick’s, Downpatrick’s rise to a first ever Mageean Cup title, revealed an emotional manager Darren Swail.

Downpatrick broke the resolve of St Patrick’s Maghera and landed an historic first title.

Seven years ago, Swail – a past pupil himself - surveyed their Year 8 intake. He’d enough quality hurlers to compete at the top level.

After winning the McGreevey Cup, it was time to dip their toes into the waters of grade A hurling.

Two seasons ago, in the Foresters Cup, they had St Mary’s, Belfast on the brink until three goals saw them become unstuck. But the wheels were already in motion in a mission to secure the top prize.

Swail took them to Limerick and a return trip to Castletroy College who they hosted 12 months earlier. It was all about exposing their upcoming stars to the highest level.

They played both Castletroy and the local club team Monaleen.

“We were down there for two or three days and the lads got new sticks on the way up the road…it was a great weekend,” Swail recalls.

“It was a young senior team we had them, with 10 of these lads (current team) down with us. We’d the likes of Tom McGrattan, Michael Dorrian, Finn Turpin and Oisin Coulter,” Swail added.

“You could just see these boys just gradually speeding up to the higher level. Things like that make a difference.”

Limerick stars Tom Morrisey and Gearoid Hegarty – took them for a wall ball session at the nearby University of Limerick.

“They spoke to them about being professional with their conditioning and how they went about their preparations,” Swail explains.

“It was great watching professionalism of that Limerick team and seeing how passionate these boys were about their hurling.”

Goalkeeper Pearse Smyth and Deaglan Mallon joined the school for sixth form.  All the pieces were in place and Friday night’s win capped off a season that saw them race ahead of the chasing pack.

“I drummed it into them over the last two weeks: ‘you’re getting nothing easy off St Pat’s Maghera’ and no team ever got it easy with them in the past,” Swail continued.

Their tally of 2-13 was the lowest of the campaign in a game their manager felt they ‘got out of jail’ when only trailing by two points at half time and registered a total of 12 wides.

In the end, they got there with a Tiernan Connolly goal and a fine defensive performance from Deaglan Mallon.

“It is stuff of fairy tales,” Swail said after the final whistle. “The emotion and the messages I have got over the last two or three weeks. You have saw scores of parents in tears. The people who hurl in Down are very passionate and that passion came out tonight.

“There is a tremendous buzz in the school. These boys will be walking around the school with their chests pointed out and they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives. We have waited a long time for this.  History is there to me made and we made it tonight.”