McGarry Steers St Louis to Mageean Glory

Danske Bank Mageean Cup Final

St Louis, Ballymena 2-14 St Killian’s, Garron Tower 0-17

Friday 9 December

Brendan McTaggart reports from The Dub Arena, Belfast

On a brisk night in the Dub Arena, St Louis and St Killian’s went to war with the Mageean Cup on the line. An hour of high drama, scintillating play and decisive scores followed and in the end, it was the Ballymena school who edged their rivals but this was a game that really could have went either way.

St Louis ability to create and take their goal chances proved to be the deciding factor.  Both coming from joint captains, Ronan McCollum and Aodhan McGarry and both coming at either ends of the hour.  McCollum’s major St Louis opening score while McGarry’s came with six minutes of the hour remaining.  It gave St Louis an edge at the business end of the game in a second half that can only be described as a titanic tussle between two evenly matches sides.

St Killian’s Cormac McKeown is closed down by the St Louis half back line

McGarry and McCollum did the lion’s share of the scoring for St Louis with 2-13 between them.  McGarry’s 1-8 obviously pivotal but his all-round play would have made him a worthy candidate for the man of the match award he collected.  While McGarry and McCollum did the scoring, the work of the St Louis defence shouldn’t be underestimated.  Francis McMullan, Darragh and Pearce Patterson excelling in the face of a St Killian’s onslaught while Jack McCloskey’s second half performance always gave St Louis hope and an outlet.

For St Killian’s, they’ll look at a period in the first half where after a bright start, they allowed St Louis to settle.  Joseph McLaughlin top scored for them with three of his ten points coming from play and with six different scorers throughout, they had plenty of danger all over the pitch.  McLaughlin formed part of a hugely impressive half forward line with Orrin O’Connor and Cormac McKeown who were certainly lively throughout and didn’t need a second invitation to take on their player and attack space.

Despite the concession of the early goal, St Killian’s probably edged the first half and dominated the early stages of the second half without much joy on the score board but they came undone in the closing stages when the brilliance of Jack McCloskey created the chance for McGarry to score the decisive score of the game.

St Killian’s started superbly and had two points on the board within two minutes of the first whistle.  A couple of wides and a shot dropping into the hands of Caolan McFerran meant they didn’t get away from St Louis before the Ballymena school settled in to the game.

St Louis needed to get scores on the board to put any nerves at ease.  With their first attack, the Ballymena school launched a long free to the heart of the St Killian’s defence from Pearce Patterson.  McGarry collected and despite the close attentions of the St Killian’s defence, he passed the sliotar to McCollum and he doubled in the air first time to find the back of the net giving John V. Morgan no chance in goals.

St Killian’s responded well with a brace of scores from Cormac McKeown and McLaughlin (free) but St Louis found another gear.  McGarry’s frees (three) and McCollum’s first point of the final made it four points unanswered before McLaughlin got the St Killian’s score board ticking again with a free in the 14th minute.

Jack Mccloskey in action during his team’s win

A superb score from Tom McFerran preceded another McGarry free to put four between the sides but St Killian’s struck back with four points unanswered of their own.  McLaughlins frees (two) and a ’65 was added to by Orrin O’Connor.  A brilliant touch and strike from O’Connor under pressure.

McGarry’s fifth point of the half edged St Louis ahead once more before McLaughlin (free) and Peadar McDonnell kept St Killian’s in touch.  The sides were wasteful in the closing stages of the half but McGarry’s point at the death left the sides tied at 1-8 to 0-11 at the short whistle.

Like the first half, St Killian’s started the second on fire.  McLaughlin opened the scoring in the second minute with his seventh point of the game, with the St Louis goal at his mercy, he elected for a point.  McCollum had the same opportunity for St Louis at the other end of the pitch but his drive fizzed over the bar soon after.

St Louis Paudie Martin celebrates after Aodhan McGarry scored his team’s second goal

The sides went toe to toe with neither stepping back in a tussle for momentum that would give either side an edge.  McLaughlin and McGarry’s frees pivotal while Cailin Devlin scored a point that would grace any pitch in Ireland in the 39th minute.  St Killian’s were putting the St Louis defence under huge pressure but the Ballymena school were defensively superb and yielded little or no goal chances and with Jack McCloskey roaming around the middle third, they had an outlet who was causing plenty of problems for St Killian’s.

The sides were tied when McCloskey broke down the right.  Collecting the sliotar from substitute Ryan O’Boyle, McCloskey sped clear of the St Killian’s defence.  With St Killian’s ‘keeper Morgan in his sights, McCloskey’s effort was blocked but McGarry was first to the rebound and he made no mistake.  

St Killian’s pushed for the goal that would revive their Mageean hopes at the death but they were met by a St Louis wall that was impregnatable.

McGarry fittingly had the final score of the game when he converted a free from his own ’45.  A quite brilliant score in injury time that never looked like going anywhere else but over the bar.

St Louis bridge a seven year gap since their last win the competition, their third overall while St Killian’s wait to add to their 1964 title continues. 

Aidy Quinn made it three out of three for St Louis on Friday night. He played on the team that won the school’s first Mageean in 1988, he was part of the management team when they won the second in 2015 and he was there again on Friday night as the chief flag bearer


St Louis: Caolan McFerran; Senan O’Boyle, Pearce Patterson, Luke McFerran; Kevin O’Boyle, Darragh Patterson, Francis McMullan; Tom McFerran, Joe McCormick; Jack McCloskey, Aodhan McGarry, Paudie Martin; Dara Martin, Sean Og Blaney, Ronan McCollum

Subs: Ryan O’Boyle for S Og Blaney (34); Barry McCloskey for J McCormick (39); Conor McKenna for S O’Boyle (inj)

Scorers: A McGarry 1-8 (7fs); R McCollum 1-5 (2fs); T McFerran 0-1

St Killian: John V. Morgan; Aidan McSparren, Mark McSparren, Callagh Mooney; Eamon Ward, Niall Magee, Cailin Devlin; Patrick McIlwaine, Austin Birt; Orrin O’Connor, Joseph McLaughlin, Cormac McKeown; Niall Hynds, Brogan O’Connor, Peadar McDonnell

Subs: Colla Ward for P McIlwaine (41); Killian McNaughton for A McSparren (47); Callum Mullan for B O’Connor (51); Patrick McIlwaine for P O’Donnell (57); Brogan O’Connor for O O’Connor (57)

Scorers: J McLaughlin 0-10 (6fs 1’65); O O’Connor 0-2; C McKeown 0-2; C Devlin 0-1; A Birt 0-1; P O’Donnell 0-1

Referee: Tarlach Conway (Derry)

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