Gallagher Cup semis down for decision

Danske Bank Gallagher Cup semi-finals
Thursday 1.45pm in Loughgiel : Cross & Passion Ballycastle v St Louis Ballymena
2pm in Ballymena : St Killian’s Garron Tower v St Mary’s Belfast
Last season, St Killian’s Garron Tower were convincing winners of
the Danske Bank MacNamee title in Ballymena, beating St Patrick’s
Maghera in the final.
Last week they again beat Maghera, this time more comfortably in the
quarter-final of the Danske Bank Gallagher Cup – but they will need
to up their game if they are to go all the way to this time.
A couple of factors have impacted on the competition and opened it up
into what many see as a three-horse race entering today’s
St Killian’s lost talisman and top-scorer to Cross and Passion
Ballycastle and that resulted in their north coast rivals scoring a
single point win over them in the league stages a couple of weeks ago.
The Tower is built around north Antrim Féile na nGael champions
Cushendall, who were heavily defeated by Rossa in the county final and
Rossa backbone what looks like a formidable St Mary’s side that is
also unbeaten in the competition.
The pair clash today (Thursday, 2pm) in Ballymena and it promises to
be a shoot-out with both sides containing strong attacking options.
The Tower no longer have a single player up front claiming the bulk of
the scoring, but still seem to have plenty of options with Colm
McKeegan, Padraig McKillop, Gabriel Leech and Euan McSparran just some
of the players who possess a physical presence and scoring touch.
Throw in a speedy midfielder in Fintan McQuillan and Glenarm’s Liam
McLaughlin, Aidan Scullion and Ciaran Magill and they still look a
strong unit.
Rossa captain Eoin Trainor is joined in the St Mary’s midfield by
Ruairí Murray with Ben McAuley at full-back giving the team a sound
base. Marcus Toner, captain of the Davitt’s team that won the Antrim
B Féile also slots in alongside Caolán Ó Duifín from St Paul’s
and Lámh Dhearg defender Daniel Murray.
An impressive unbeaten run to date and the increased confidence gained with Rossa’s success probably put St Mary’s into the game as slight favourites, but the Tower will still give it a real rattle.
Up in Loughgiel, the slightly earlier game (1.45pm) looks easier to call with Cross and Passion Ballycastle clear favourites to beat St Louis Ballymena. St Louis had to come behind to win their quarter-final against Divis Schools and they do have  useful players in the likes of Paudie McGilligan and Daire McMullan, along with hat-trick hero Colla McDonnell, but Ballycastle had a high-scoring win over them in the
league. Enda óg McGarry and Rian McMullan starred in CPC’s Danske Bank Foresters’ Cup final success over the same opposition just before Easter, and though McGarry’s was injured when playing for his club Loughgiel, the addition of former Tower player Michael O’Boyle should give them a real cutting edge up front.
Yes, it is difficult to see CPC not reaching next week’s final, but the real question is whom they will face

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