Ulster Colleges GAA – Corn Eimhear final
Saturday 11.30am in Ballymena
Cross and Passion Ballycastle v Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock
THE big story in Ulster Schools’ camogie has been the rise of Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock over the past 18 months.
In May 2017 they won their first ever schools’ provincial camogie title at under 14 level and most of that same group of girls powered their way past St Killian’s Garron Tower this time last year to win the Liatroim Fontneoys’ under 16 title.
This autumn, playing at A grade for the first time, they won their first four games in the group sections of Corn Eimhear and have qualified for the final after defeating St Louis Ballymena in last Friday’s semi-final.
This mirrors the achievements of St Catherine’s Armagh who did something similar to reach last Halloween’s final at the first attempt. But after a good opening half, St Catherine’s fell heavily to Cross and Passion Ballycastle who took their third successive title in a high-scoring final.
Ballycastle stand in Knock’s way of what would be a remarkable achievement for the east Belfast school who last week came within a point of winning the All-Ireland schools’ sevens title. They draw from a number of clubs, but the recent strong underage successes for Bredagh and Ballygalget have raised their stock significantly.
The main players for Knock are international under age golfer Beth Coulter, who along with Ciara Fitzsimons up front, have accounted for a high percentage of their scores. Meanwhile Alice Coulter and Tara Monan are strong in defence while midfielder Niamh Dempster was most impressive for Ballygalget in the Down senior semi-final defeat to Clonduff.
Cross and Passion Ballycastle however are the bench-mark at the moment at schools’ level having wrestled that title from the Maghera-Magherafelt duopoly around five years ago. A plethora of underage titles have been followed by three successive Corn Eimhears and back to back senior titles.
After losing by a point, 2-6 to 0-11, to St Louis Ballymena in a group game they bounced back to top the group, beat St Mary’s Magherafelt last week by 6-14 to 2-4 in the semi-final and are favourites to make it four-in-a-row.
For the past two finals Becky Ellis has been in goals and Enya McShane in defence, while midfielder Annie Lynn has scored in both finals and Riana McBride, a star for Antrim under 16s in their All-Ireland run, is their top scorer.
It has been a remarkable autumn so far for Annie Lynn; the Loughiel girl won Intermediate and Junior championship medals with her club and was playing at wing-forward last Saturday when Crosserlough came with a late surge to deny her an Ulster Junior club medal.
There are three Magill sisters in the team; Aine who scored 1-2 last year is joined by twin sisters Bríd in defence and Bronach at full-forward.
Cross and Passion should be favourites to extend their Cup run – but don’t rule out another shock from Knock
Cross and Passion : Becky Ellis, Charley McQuillan, Erin Kyle, Bríd Magill, Caitlin Heggarty, Enya McShane, Fay McIntosh, Annie Lynn, Orlagh Laverty, Fionnuala Kelly, Aine Magill, Nuala Devlin, Riana McBride, Bronach Magill, Caoimhe McMullan.
Subs : Eva Graham, Cara Connolly, Christina Hamilton, Shauna Huey, Caoimhe O’Hara, Maille Donnelly, Aoife McCurry, Grainne O’Neill, Nuala McCaughan, Aoibheann Donnelly.
Knock : Ellen McDermott, Emily Clancy, Sarah Clancy, Orla Wilson, Alice Coulter, Tara Monan, Ailbhe Kane, Orla McCarvill, Niamh Dempster, Aine Dorrian, Beth Coulter, Ciara Gilmore, Lily McKee, Ciara Fitzsimons, Maeve O’Keefe.
Subs : Kerry Taggart, Emma McCarthy, Molly McCrory, Saerlaith Savage, Orla Dempster, Iona McKibben.