By Séamas McAleenan
The GAAStore.com Ulster Schools’ Year 8 Camogie semi-finals
St Patrick’s Maghera 6-2 Cross & Passion Ballycastle 4-0
St Louis Ballymena 8-5 St Mary’s Magherafelt 0-0
St Patrick’s Maghera yesterday broke Cross & Passion Ballycastle’s valiant attempt at a clean sweep of Ulster Schools’ camogie titles when they came out on top in The GAAStore.com Ulster Schools’ Year 8 semi-final played in Ballycastle.
And Maghera achieved that despite conceding a goal after just 30 seconds from the excellent Ciara Connolly.
The Derry school responded with a point from Blathnaid McLoughlin and then took an interval lead of 2-1 to 1-0 curtesy of goals from Nicole Cassidy and McLoughlin inside 70 seconds midway through the opening half.
McLoughlin was one of the Maghera star performers, forming a strong midfield partnership with Evanne Martin, but really it was a sound team effort, while the home side depended on a few individuals like Connolly, who went on to score a hat-trick, Faye McIntosh at midfield and defenders Aoibheann Donnelly and Zoe Cassley.
A goal from Evanne Martin in the second minute of the second half set down a Maghera marker and, although Faye McIntosh responded with a Ballycastle goal inside a couple of minutes, goals in quick succession from Martin and McLoughlin (2) put their opponents on the ropes.
Connolly battled back with two more goals for CPC, but the game was out of their reach and Maghera reached the final where their opponents will be St Louis Ballymena.
The mid-Antrim school swept aside the challenge from St Mary’s Magherafelt with some powerful camogie to win 8-5 to 0-0.
With that sort of score-line their stars had to be in attack and all their scorers really stepped up to the mark – Clionaid O’Kane, Cliona Griffin, Eimear Johnson, Anna McKillian and free-taker Katie Molloy kept St Mary’s pinned back into their own half for much of the game.
Maghera edged by just two points a terrific league encounter with St Louis a couple of weeks ago, indicating that next week’s final should be worth seeing.
St Patrick’s : Blathnaid McLoughlin 3-1, Evanne Martin 2-0, Nicole Cassidy 1-0.
Cross & Passion : Ciara Connolly 3-0, Faye McIntosh 1-0.
St Louis : Clionaid O’Kane 3-0, Cliona Griffin 2-0, Eimear Johnson 2-0, Anna McKillian 1-1, Katie Molloy 0-4 frees.