O’Boyle the CPC hero as they pip St Killian’s in thrilling final

Danske Bank Leonard Cup finalLeonard Cup final 3CPC’s Michael O’Boyle solos towards goal during his team’s Leonard Cup final win over St Killian’s at Allen Park, Antrim. Pic by John McIlwaine

Cross and Passion Ballycastle 3-11 St Killian’s Garron Tower 3-10

A beautiful point struck off his left at full pace as he raced up the left side-line in injury time, underlined Michael O’Boyle’s contribution to an excellent Danske Bank Leonard Cup final in Allen Park, Antrim this afternoon.

That was his 10th point to add to two first half goals as Cross and Passion came from behind at the death to win back the Cup they last held two seasons ago.

O’Boyle of course was critical to the outcome as his two early goals set opponents St Killian’s a problem to reel in.

The first came in the 11th minute, a fine solo run and strike, and was followed four minutes later by a crisp strike from the penalty line after he was bundled over in the area.

That put his side 2-1 to 0-2 ahead and, although St Killian’s hit the next four points in response, Cross and Passion finished the half strongly with O’Boyle adding a free and then Oisin Elliott brilliantly taking a short stick pass from Damian Quinn’s stick to find the net.

That meant the teams turned over at 3-2 to 0-6 and they traded three scores each in the opening 10 minutes of the second half before Fintan McQuillan’s long range free touched off a defender’s stick beating goalie Kevin McAuley to put St Killian’s back in the frame.

Damian Quinn responded immediately with a point from play, but Ciaran Magill tied the game in the 47th minute when he grabbed the sliotar to blast low to the net.

Again Ballycastle hit back positively with three points from O’Boyle, the first from play and then two from frees one of which was outside the 65 metre line.

St Killian’s then hit their third goal to tie the game once more on 3-9 each, Pearse McKeegan’s long free falling nicely for sub Dara Mort to stab home from close range.

The game was now in the last ten minutes and excitement high and it looked like the Tower were eventually break for home when Aidan Scullion burst out of defence, soloed to the opposing 45 metre line and fired over an outstanding individual score.

O’Boyle however had other ideas and he levelled from a 65 in the 57th minute, before adding the coup de grace a few minutes later. Garron Tower had chances in injury time, but Enda óg McGarry and his defence held strong to cross the line.

In overall St Killian’s probably looked the stronger all round team, but they didn’t have the penetration of O’Boyle to back up a solid outing from his team-mates.

St Killian’s : J McAllister, G Leech, L McLaughlin, C McCollam, P McKeegan, A Scullion 0-1, D Magill, C Hynds capt, M Emerson, F McQuillan 1-5 frees, C Magill 1-1, E McSparron 0-1, C McKeegan 0-1, S McDonnell 0-1, S McIntosh.

Subs : S O’Boyle for S McIntosh (HT), D Mort 1-0 for C McKeegan (37).

Cross & Passion : K McAuley, J McGowan, E óg McGarry, C McGarry, C McGlynn, D Devlin, R McClean, R McMullan, C McKinley, M O’Boyle, E Laverty, O Elliot, C O’Mullan, C O’Connor, D Quinn

Subs : C McAuley for D Quinn (57)

Referee : Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)267Seamus McAleenan of Ulster Colleges presents the Danske Bank Leonard Cup to CPC captain Rian McMullan after his team’s win over St Killian’s in today’s Leonard Cup final at Allen Park, Antrim. Pic by John McIlwaine

Tower and CPC meet in Leonard Cup final

Danske Bank Leonard Cup final

Monday 15th January 1pm at Allen Park 4G in Antrim

Cross and Passion Ballycastle v St Killian’s Garron Tower

Cross and Passion Ballycastle have been waiting fully eight weeks for this Danske Bank Leonard Cup final after seeing off competition favourites in the semi-final as scheduled in mid November.

However a combination of snow, the unavailability of pitches and pre-Christmas exams meant that the second semi-final involving St Killian’s Garron Tower and St Louis Ballymena didn’t take place until last Wednesday when the Tower rather easily powered past their opponents.

This age-group has been hard to call with St Killian’s comfortable winners against St Patrick’s Maghera in the final of the MacNamee Cup two seasons ago and then last season, they were beaten by both St Mary’s CBGS and Cross and Passion with St Mary’s then comfortably seeing off the north Antrim school in the Gallagher Cup decider in May.

That’s why the ease of Cross and Passion’s semi-final win over St Mary’s in November raised an eye-brow or two and it will be interesting to see if they can re-discover that form after the two month lay-off.

Key man in that semi-final win was Michael O’Boyle who scored a superb 3-4 out of their 4-7 to 1-5 win. Interestingly the Glenarriffe forward was top-scorer for St Killian’s in their MacNamee win in 2015 before transferring to CPC this time last year.

He is an exceptional talent both from open play and placed balls and will feature very much in the plans that St Killian’s defence will lay down.

However he is certainly not the only player in the Ballycastle pack with the defence looking very strong around Enda óg McGarry and Dylan Devlin, particularly in the group game with St Killian’s that finished level.

Colm McKeegan scored a late equaliser for the Tower in that game. He is part of a physically strong team physically, while there are certainly scoring options in the attack, there is no one individual capable of causing the mayhem that O’Boyle could impose on a game.

Liam McLaughlin is strong and quick at full-back with the half-backs Aidan Scullion, Pearse McKeegan and Euan Mulvenna the key line in the team.

Cathal Hynds and Mark Emerson have forged a good partnership at midfield while Fintan McQuillan, Shea McDonnell and Ciaran Magill up front have been opening defences for scores.

However victory will revolve around the performance of Michael O’Boyle. If the Tower can curtail his influence on the scoring, they should take a first title. Alternatively if O’Boyle continues where he left off in the semi-final, Cross and Passion could win a fourth title from the last seven.

Possible teams :

St Killian’s : James McAllister, Declan Magill, Liam McLaughlin, Conor McCollam, Pearse McKeegan, Aidan Scullion, Euan McSparron, Cathal Hynds capt, Mark Emerson, Fintan McQuillan, Ciaran Magill, Calum Kilgore, Colm McKeegan, Shea McDonnell, Seanie McIntosh.

Subs : Sean O’Boyle, Gabriel Leech, Niall McGarrel, Daniel Kearney, Dara Mort, Shea McNaughton, Shane McKenna.

Cross & Passion : Kevin McAuley, Jack McGowan, Enda óg McGarry, Christy McGarry, Conall McGlynn, Dylan Devlin, Reuben McClean, Rian McMullan, Conleth McKinley, Michael O’Boyle, Eunan Laverty, Oisin Elliot, Conor O’Mullan, Caolan O’Connor, Damien Quinn

Subs : Tiernan McCaughan, Shane Kelly,  Cormac Doherty, Christy McAuley, Ruairi McCormick, James Bakewell, Tadhg Donnelly

CPC hold off St Louis to retain their crown, but it was oh so close!

Ulster College Senior Camogie finalCamogie 1 CPC celebrate their win over St Loius in the Ulster Senior Colleges Camogie final in Ballymena. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

Cross and Passion Ballycastle 0-8 St Louis Ballymena 1-3

Cross & Passion College, Ballycastle retained their Ulster Senior Camogie title when they held off the stern challenge of St Louis Ballymena in Sunday’s final at Quinn Park, Ballymena. Going into the game the smart money was all on the champions to easily retain their title, but St Louis, who were appearing in their first senior final since 1951, hadn’t read the script and they tore into their opponents with passion and skill. They trailed by 0-6 to 0-2 at half time and when they drew level soon after the restart they looked like they were on course to cause the shock of the Century. However CPC dug deep when their backs were against the wall as they somehow fashioned a victory as they held their opponents scoreless for the remainder of the game while grabbing two points of their own. It may not have been the free flowing camogie they have displayed all season, but they got the job done and they will feel that is what really matters. However great credit must go to St Louis for a brilliant fighting display. They came within a poc of a ball of causing a major upset and though they will be hurting badly this evening they can be proud of their display.

In a game dominated by defences scores were hard to come by, the first arriving  on four minutes from CPC’s Kirsty McKendry but this was not be a game of spectacular scores and so scores from frees were to be vital.  Roisin McCormick hit three in a row to put Ballycastle four up, two of them for fouls on the dangerous Maeve Kelly who was causing problems for St Louis by her strong running through the middle.

The excellent Áine Devlin hit back with two frees for St Louis and, although McCormick  came back with two more in reply the Ballymena girls knew they were very much in the game going in at the break just 0-6 to 0-2 down with wind advantage to come in the second half.

Left – CPC’s Maeve Kelly sets off on a solo run.                                                                      Right – St Louis Kathryn Mullan breaks through – Pics by Dylan McIlwaine

St Louis got a good start to the second period when Devlin pointed a free just after the change of ends and when the Tir na nÓg ace fired home a penalty in the fortieth minute they were back on terms. The odds of an upset had now shortened significantly and the St Louis tails were up, but  Anna Connolly steadied the ship for CPC when she grabbed a point from play in her team’s next attack. The remainder of the game was tense and exciting with opportunities of scores reduced to a minimum by two excellent defences. Roisin McCormick eased CPC two clear with her first point from play with just six minutes to play, but they Ballycastle fans had to endure some heartstopping minutes before the end. CPC full-back was sent off after receiving a second yellow card as she reppeled the St Louis attacks. Aine Devlin came close with the resultant free but the CPC defence, in which Catie McCaughan made some great clearances, held out for the win.

Relief was probably the overal emotion for CPC at the end for they knew they had been in a battle royale and their thoughts now turn to an All Ireland semi-final next month.

Cross and Passion : A McGowan, C McCaughan, K Lynn, A O’Mullan, B McKeague, C McShane, F McVeigh, R McCormick 0-6, 0-5 frees, M Kelly, A Connolly 0-1, K McKendry 0-1, M McCormick, D McGill, C McCarry, M O’Neill.

Subs: C Laverty for D Magill (ht), C McGarry for A Connolly (57).

St Louis : A Graham, L McAleese, E Kearns, F Hills, Cameron McGaughey, A Boyle capt., B Delargy, K Mullan, M Downey, K Burke, C Crawford, A Devlin 1-3, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees, S Darragh, K Edgar, M McKillen

Sub : E Traynor for C Crawford (55)

Referee : Owen Elliott (Ballymena)

Left – Annie Lynn is comforted by her mum after receiving a second yellow card but she was soon smiling again at the final whistle as she celebrated her second Ulster Senior medal with her team mates
Family matters – CPC team manager Barry Kelly celebrates with his daughter Maeve at the final whistle while Karen McCormick, who won a senior Camogie title with St Pat’s Maghera back in 1987 celebrates with her two daughters Maebh and Roisin who played on the winning CPC team today.

Pics by Dylan and John McIlwaine

Local rivals clash in Ulster final

Corn Uan Uladh final – Ulster senior camogie finalCamogie preview

Sunday 14th January 11am in Ballymena

Cross and Passion Ballycastle v St Louis Ballymena

When the Ulster schools started camogie competition back in the mid 1940s the game was strongest in Antrim with the county winning their first three All-Ireland senior titles 1945-7.

That was reflected in the early years of Corn Uan Uladh with Cross and Passion winning the 1945 competition and then St Louis Ballymena taking five of the next six titles.

That 1951 success was Ballymena’s last appearance in a final, until before Christmas they booked their spot in tomorrow’s (SUNDAY’s) decider with a 4-1 to 0-3 win over St Patrick’s Maghera.

Indeed Cross and Passion, apart from two appearances and one title in the 1960s, hadn’t much to shout about either as firstly, Derry, then Armagh and Down schools took over with the last three decades seeing Maghera and St Mary’s Magherafelt sharing out 27 titles between them.

CPC over the past decade or more however has been chipping away at that duopoly and secured titles in 2008 and last season from eight final appearances. A dominance of the under-age scene over the past few years meant that they have been strong favourites to retain their title.

Collecting their third successive Corn Eimhear at Halloween has only underpinned their credentials while they have coasted through all their senior championship games to date, a 9-15 to 0-1 semi-final win over Magherafelt an unsurprising scoreline.

They have tremendous scoring potential in Roisin McCormick, Maeve Kelly, Dearbhaill McGill and Charley McCarry while the likes of Finvola McVeigh, Catherine McShane and Bronagh McKeague provide a strong barrier at half-back. Indeed overall they are a very experienced team made up exclusively of Sixth Formers.

St Louis, as a school, are in a similar situation to where CPC were a few years ago and they have overcome a huge psychological barrier to reach the final. In truth they could have won their semi-final with Maghera much easier than the final scoreline, although they did lose key forward Aine Devlin to injury after just 25 minutes.

They responded very well though with Mary McKillen and Maura Downey (from a penalty) hitting their third and fourth goals before half-time. The second half, by and large, was a pedestrian affair with Maghera never looking likely to break through for scores to change things.

Eilish Kearns, Kathryn Mullan and Amy Boyle were very strong at the back, but the attack, some of whom are very young, really needed Devlin’s experience to engineer openings.

It is difficult seeing the St Louis attack penetrating CPC’s defence often enough to cause any real problems – and appearing in the final for the first time they really need first half goals to trouble Ballycastle and also convince themselves that they have a chance of bridging the gap to 1951.

General opinion favours Ballycastle’s strong attacking options to impose themselves on the game early on and put St Louis on the back foot. But a final appearance in itself is another step forward for Ballymena.

It also reflects a trend in under-age camogie in the province with Antrim dominating affairs. There could well be future final meetings between the pair.

Probable teams

Cross and Passion : Aoife McGowan, Catie McCaughan, Katie Lynn, Aoife O’Mullan, Bronagh McKeague, Catherine McShane, Finvola McVeigh, Roisin McCormick, Maeve Kelly, Anna Connolly, Kirsty McKendry, Méadbh McCormick, Dearbhail McGill, Charley McCarry, Carla Mc Garry.

Subs: Rebecca Hargan, Roisin Cummings, Emer O’Neill, Caitlin Kelly, Niamh Doherty, Aoife Toner, Aoife McClafferty, Ciara Mathers, Katie Laverty, Ciara Laverty, Maria Bakewell.

St Louis : Aine Graham, Laura McAleese, Eilis Kearns, Kathryn Mullan, Cameron McGaughey, Fiona Hills, Caitlin Martin, Amy Boyle, Maura Downey, Caitlin Crawford, Kimberley Burke, Aine Devlin, Erin Traynor, Aimee Traynor, Shannon Darragh

Subs : Caoimhe Molloy, Bridget Delargy, Annie McGilligan, Eimear McMullan, Naya McNeill, Eva McNeill, Kirsten Edgar, Bronagh Laverty, Mary McKillen, Maeve Henry, Aimee Johnson, Niamh Callan, Caitlin McGaugheyCamogie preview 2