Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup semi-final
Abbey VS, Donegal v St Patrick’s, Downpatrick (Monday, Garvaghey, 4pm)
FOUR Masters handed out a lesson in the Ulster club minor football tournament which finished on New Year’s Day.
Half of their starting team in that final a month ago featured last Wednesday in Abbey Vocational School’s 2-14 to 1-5 win over Aquinas Grammar in the Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup.
It further fuelled the hype that the Donegal school is on course to collect a first-ever title.
Our Lady & St Patrick’s Knock made it through to the final on Friday evening and St Patrick’s, Downpatrick have the onerous task of stopping the Abbey heavy goods train.
Minor winners Daniel McGinty Terence McGovern, Callum McCrea, Kevin Muldoon, Tiarnan McBride, Turlough Carr and Conor McCahill were all featuring prominently in that semi-final with goalie McGinty saving a penalty.
The Four Masters also reached last year’s minor final and can call upon extra support in Leo McGowan, David Monaghan, Senan Carr, Caolán Sweeney and Conor Meehan, the latter accounting for 1-7 against Aquinas.
Facing them are a Red High team of survivors who failed to score in the first half of either the play-off game against St Eunan’s, Letterkenny or last week’s win over St Mary’s CBGS in Dromara, yet battled through to reach the next round.
Both games were played in very difficult conditions. Downpatrick needed 10 second-half points to bring the Letterkenny game to extra-time and then penalties while a blast of 2-5 in the opening 10 minutes of the second half tied St Mary’s in knots.
Luke McCabe and Adam Dorans are the pivotal players in their attack, while most of the plaudits have gone to their defensive set-up, unsurprisingly since their manager is current Down and Kilcoo defender Míceál Rooney.
There are extra bodies to close down the space around Luka Carew, with Eoin Murray and Sean Murphy covering a lot of ground.
Although they have kept winning, Downpatrick’s weakness was exposed during those long periods without a score. Abbey’s attacking strength and organisation is better than anything they have come up against and the Lecale boys will need to hit the target on a regular basis to have any chance of reaching the final.