CPC bid for Buggy Cup final place

Masita Paddy Buggy Cup semi-final (All Ireland Senior B hurling)

Saturday 7th March :

Cross and Passion Ballycastle v St Brendan’s CS Birr @ Inniskeen Throw-in 2pm

By John McIlwaine

CROSS and Passion Ballycastle set out in search of another place in an All Ireland final when they take on Leinster champions St Brendan’s Birr in Saturday’s semi-final in Inniskeen. The Ballycastle school last tasted success back in 2015 when they beat Moutrath Community School from Laois in a thrilling final in Semple Stadium Thurles, their third success at All Ireland College B level. That was the ‘Convent’s’ last All Ireland final appearance and they are keen to bridge the five year gap and get back to a decider once again.

CPC captain Seamus McAuley

Standing in their way are St Brendan’s Community School Birr, the Offaly side clinching their place thanks to a win over Ardscoil Rís of Dublin in Tuesday’s Leinster final in Kilkenny. The boys from the Faithful county had the better of things in the early stages of that game, and boosted by scores from Luke Nolan, John Coughlan and Luke Carey they opened up a 0-5 to 0-2 lead. Ardscoil Rís came back with two quick points to cut the gap to the minimum, but Birr finished the half strongly and added another point to lead by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break. After the break they extended their lead to four points inside the first ten minutes of the second period but once again Ardscoil Rís rallied. The Dublin boys brought it back to 0-11 to 0-9 by the 49th minute but Birr regained control in the final ten minutes and with Luke Nolan and Luke Carey picking off the points they pulled away to win by five in the end.

CPC corner forward Christy McGarry

CPC won the Ulster title back in November, securing the Mageean Cup with and extra time win over St Mary’s at the Dub. They went into the game as firm favourites, but stuggled against the Belfast school for long periods of the game and it took a magnificent strike from an 80 metre injury time free from Michael O’Boyle to bring the game to extra time. After having struggled during normal time, everything then fell into place as they scored 2-8 without reply in seal their first Mageean Cup in five years.

In the build up to Saturday’s game the team have played a series of challenge games and the management team of Joe Cassidy and Oran Kearney have left no stone unturned in their preparations. They travelled down to Kilkenny for an intense weekend’s training a few weeks ago and after playing the Kilkenny minor team on the Friday night they spent Saturday at St Kieran’s College where they were put through their paces by Kilkenny U20 Coach Pat Donovan. They have also played challenge games against Antrim minors and Loughgiel U21s as well as a series of high intensity in-house games where the numbers were strengthened by former students who came in to assist in the preparations.  

Michael O’Boyle whose free taking helped CPC to the Mageean Cup

Joe Cassidy travelled down to Kilkenny last Tuesday to see Saturday’s opponents in action and while he was impressed by the performance of the Birr team, he still felt that if CPC are at their best they can match them. “They have a few excellent individuals in their team and have five of the current Offaly minor side in their ranks”

Saturday’s opponents will be hard to beat, but CPC have the personnel to match them. They will be hoping for a quicker start than they had in the Mageean final but with the big Cross & Passion support behind them there is no reason why they can’t get back to another Paddy Buggy final.

The Cross & Passion team who won the Mageean Cup with an extra time win over St Mary’s CBGS back in November.

Cross & Passion’s team and scores from the Mageean final was

T Smyth; R McClean, E McGarry (0-1), R Laverty; C McGlynn, J McAllister, C McKinley; S McAuley (0-1), S Brogan; J McToal (0-2), F McKiernan (0-3), M O’Boyle (0-6, all frees); R McMullan (1-2, 0-1 free), O McGrath, C McGarry (0-1). Subs: D Devlin for S Brogan (HT), S McDonnell (0-2, 1 free)) for O McGrath (34), C O’Mullan (1-0) for J McToal (51), J McGowan for C McKinley (59), C O’Connor (1-0) for J McAllister (60)

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