Neighbours clash as Paddy McLarnon Cup reaches semi-finals

Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup semi-final

St. Brigid’s (Antrim) v Carryduff (Down)

Down champions Carryduff enter the Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup at the semi-final stage when they take on Antrim representatives and near neighbours, St. Brigid’s in what looks to have all the ingredients of a mouth-watering contest.

Carryduff’s opening day fixture against Enniskillen Gaels was called off when the Monaghan men withdrew at the 11th hour, leaving the Creggan club with no chance to organise an alternative fixture and as a result the Down side advanced to the semi-final without kicking a ball.

St. Brigid’s looked impressive in overcoming Crosserlough of Cavan in their quarter-final meeting on the 13th January. Playing against the wind in the opening half, St. Brigid’s got off to a good start and at one time looked like running away with it when they led the Cavan champions early on. Goals from the attacking duo of Peter Henvey and John Blaney in the first half gave St Brigid’s an eight point lead during the opening 30 minutes but the Cavan champions hit back before the short whistle.  A brace of goals from Tommy Boylan late in the half reduced the half time lead to two points.

With the elements in their favour in the second half St. Brigid’s were expected to take control and when substitute Rory Brolly scored their third goal with six minutes remaining it was as good as over. Crosserlough kept plugging away to the end however and a superb goal from Shane McVetty ensured a nervous finish for the Musgrave Park supporters.

St. Brigid’s  failed to panic however, running out winners by three points with Conor King, Daniel Foster, Patrick Finnegan, Peter Webb, John Blayney, James Smith and Peter Henvey leading the way and Rory Brolly lively when introduced they looked a useful outfit.

Brolly could well have done enough to ensure a place in Sunday’s starting lineout but I wouldn’t expect there to be many changes from last day out.

                               WHAT OF CARRYDUFF

This is the second year in succession that Carryduff have taken the Down title and they were quite impressive at Creggan last year before going down to eventual winners, Gaoth Dobhair.

Last years’ experience should help the Mourne champions who impressed in the Down final where they beat Bryansford 3-7 to 0-3 in a one sided affair.

That result would suggest that they will go into Sunday’s semi-final as firm favourites and in Gareth Henderson, Daniel Coogan, John McGeogh, Pierce Laverty, Owen McCabe, Peter Loughran, Darragh Connolly, Daniel McCartan and Ronan Beatty they have top class performers and that win over Bryansford marks them as a top class pride.

The fact that these clubs are close neighbours and that a number of former Carryduff members were involved in the formation of St. Brigid’s adds an extra bit of spice to Sunday’s clash. The action gets under way at 12.30 and looks like one not to be missed.

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