Danske Bank Mageean Cup final
Friday 9th December at 7.30pm in the Dub
St Louis Ballymena v St Killian’s Garron Tower
All roads lead to the Dub on Friday evening for the final of the Mageean Cup, the highlight of any young hurlers’ school year, indeed the highlight of their school career. Only a select few get the chance of experiencing such an occasion, and even fewer get the chance coming away with the coveted trophy.
This time around St Louis Ballymena take on St Killian’s Garron Tower, two teams meeting for the first time in the decider. St Louis won their second Mageean just seven years ago but the Tower have to go right back to 1964 for their last success at this level
The two teams who line out on Friday know each other very well. Both are unbeaten this season and when they met each other in the league section of the completion they could not be separated. St Louis appeared to be coasting to a comfortable win that day in Fr Maginn Park Glenravel when they went seven clear entering the final quarter, but St Killian’s fought their way back, to hit eight of the last nine points, most of those coming from the stick of free taker Joseph McLaughlin. St Louis went back ahead in injury time and it took a last gasp point from play by McLaughlin to earn his team a share of the spoils. All Saints Aodhan McGarry provided the bulk of the scores that day for St Louis, while the ever dangerous Jack McCloskey was also to the fore.
Both sides went on to win the rest of the games in their group and qualify for the semi-finals, which were played last week. St Louis were impressive as they beat St Pat’s Maghera in their semi-final in Ahoghill, with Aodhan McGarry again leading the line as he hit 13 points, twelve of them from frees.
St Killian’s had a much tougher struggle against north Antrim neighbours Cross & Passion College in their semi-final in a game that was close and hard fought, but both sides underperformed on the day. The match ended in a three point win for the Tower by 1-10 to 1-7, but that scoreline is very low in modern day hurling and they will know they will have to be a lot more accurate if they are to get over the line on Friday night.
Both teams are full of talent and in Kevin O’Boyle, the Patterson twins, Aodhan McGarry, Ronan McCollum and Jack McCloskey they have players who could play on any team. St Killian’s also have their stars and in Callagh Mooney, Mark McSparran, Colla Ward, Orrin O’Connor, Jooseph McLaughlin and Cormac McKeown they have players with real star quality.
Overall St Louis have looked that little bit better all season and will probably start favourites with the bookies, but that won’t bother St Killians in the slightest. A lot will depend on the free takers as usual, but both sides are well served in that department. Nerves will play a big part in a game which will be the biggest in many of these players careers. Neither side will have any experience of playing a game under the lights, in the tight confines of the Dub Arena, and that can be hard to get used to. Let’s hope both teams get a few early scores to settle them down. If so we could be in for a classic.