Danske Bank Casement Cup Hurling semi-final
St Mary’s Magherafelt 2-17 St Malachy’s Belfast 2-4
A great individual display by Cargin’s Conhuir Johnstone guided St Mary’s Magherafelt to the final of the Ulster Schools Casement Cup final on Monday afternoon at Dunsilly. In a re-match of last season’s decider the Magherafelt boys turned the table to book their place in the final. With Johnstone leading the line from centre forward St Mary’s dominated throughout and the game was all but decided at half time when last year’s beaten finalists led by 1-12 to 0-2 at the change of ends.
Football ace Johnstone, showed he adapt to the small ball with no trouble, as he proved far too difficult for the St Malachy’s defence to contain and he shot a goal and seven points in the wind-assisted first half to put the game to bed at half-time.
No less impressive were his MacRory Cup colleagues James Sargeant and Niall O’Donnell in the half-back line, while John McGurk hoovered up any ball that came past them.
Segdae Mac Adaimh got the opening point for St Malachy’s and Rónán Edgar from a free put them 0-2 to 0-1 up after Johnstone had opened his account at the other end. However the Antrim Road side failed to score for the rest of the half as St Mary’s took control out the field and Johnstone orchestrated the forward line.
Johnstone fired over from an acute angle on the right to tie the teams and Sargeant landed a long range free to put them ahead in the 5th minute. With Jack Convery placing O’Donnell for a fine point a minute later, St Mary’s were building up a head of steam.
Patrick Birt got in on the scoring just before Johnstone crashed home the opening goal in the 12th minute. The Cargin man then landed five points in a row, the opening two from frees.
Midfielder Charlie Curley interrupted the run to tag on a point, but Johnstone and Lorcán O’Donnell finished the first half scoring to make it 1-12 to 0-2 at the break.
Any complacency St Mary’s might have had going into the second half was knocked out of them by Rónán Edgar who careered through their defence to find the net within 45 seconds of the re-start. James Sargeant sent over a long range free in response and, at the other end, Pádraig Kelly did well to smother and clear a goal-bound free from Edgar.
Callum Walsh kept St Malachy’s going with a point in the 35th minute, but St Mary’s weathered the storm and gradually regained control of the game, helped by points from Birt and Johnstone (two frees).
Then in the 50th minute a long clearance out of defence was taken at pace by Johnstone who ran straight through the centre and fired the sliotar to the roof of the net for his second goal.
In fairness Edgar responded with a decent goal at the other end and Caoimhín Killyleagh added a point. But they were mere consolation scores with AJ McCann shooting over from wide on the right to complete the scoring for Magherafelt.
St Mary’s will now face Rathmore Grammar in the final after the south Belfast school overcame St Colman’s Newry in the other semi-final.
St Mary’s: Pádraig Kelly, Leo Gribbin, Odhrán Mulligan, John McGurk, Rónán McCallion, James Sargeant (0-2 frees), Niall O’Donnell (0-1), Charlie Curley (0-1), Luke Burns, Michael Walls, Conhuir Johnstone (2-9, 0-4 frees), Jack Convery, Lorcán O’Donnell (0-1), AJ McCann (0-1), Patrick Birt (0-2)
Sub: Ben McLarnon for N O’Donnell (55).
St Malachy’s: Liam McCafferty, Jake Massingham, Conor McAllister, Emmett Casey, Eoin Brown, Cian O’Connor, Oisín Kelly, Caoimhín Killyleagh (0-1), Evan Stanley, Segdae Mac Adaimh (0-1), Ronan Edgar (2-1, 0-1 free), Eoin Duffy, Diarmuid Martin, Callum Walsh (0-1), Cillian O’Brien.
Subs: Ray McKenna for D Martin (45), Pádraig McKevitt for E Stanley (45).