On Monday, St Louis hosted a festival of football with 18 teams from all over Ulster competing for the Year 8 Connor Marron Cup and Aidan Walsh Shield. Up for grabs was also the Conall Gould Player of the Tournament. All trophies were named in memory of 3 former pupils of St Louis and great Gaels within Antirm.
Coláiste Feirste 1
SJ Donaghmore 1
SJ Donaghmore 2
St Pauls Bessbrook 1
St Patrick’s Keady
St Malachy’s 1
St Mary’s CBS 1
St Malachy’s 2
St Patrick’s Ballymena
St Pauls Bessbrook 2
St Mary’s CBS 2
St Ciaran’s Ballygawley
Colaiste Feirste 2
The shield final was a show down between Colaiste Feirste and Donaghmore. It was a brilliant game of skill and determination with the Gaeilgeoirí taking the silverware.
The cup final was an exciting battle between St Marys CBS and St Joseph’s Donaghmore. The Belfast boys showed great grit, but it was the Tyrone side that would lift the cup.
There were a lot of players that caught the eye throughout the day. Sionnan Norney from Colaiste Feirste certainly showed the boys how to play the game with skill and pace but it was Eamonn Jordon of Donaghmore who consistently performed to win the Conall Gould Player of the Tournament.
Paddy McAleer presents Eamonn Jordan with the Conall Gould Player of the Tournament.
Mrs Toner (Head of Year 8) presenting St Joseph’s Donaghmore with the Connor Marron Cup.
The family of Aidan Walsh with Colaiste Feirste the Winners of the Shield competition and below, Brian Walsh presents the Aidan Walsh Shield to the Colaiste Feirste captain
St Patrick’s who won their three group games in the Shield before losing out to St Mary’s in the quarter finals. Aidan Walsh R.I.P. was a former coach to this group of players and a strong promoter of Gaelic Games in the Ballymena College
St Patrick’s Lisburn 5-8 Sperrin Integrated Magherafelt 3-11
ST PATRICK’S Lisburn are first time winners of the Danske Bank Corn Cúchulainn after an intriguing final in Dunsilly with Sperrin Intergrated College who also featured players from clubs in south west Antrim.
All eight goals came in the opening half at the end of which Lisburn led Sperrin by 5-3 to 3-6. The heat and both teams tightening up defensively slowed the flow of scores during the second half, but the game remained exciting for the sizeable crowd of supporters attending.
It was an explosive opening 11 minutes from Lisburn and in particular from Owen Mahoney. The full-forward banged home a hat-trick of goals during that period to put Sperrin on the back foot.
The Magherafelt school recovered during the second quarter with a goal from Jacob Painter and two from star man Matthew McCrellis. Despite two further Lisburn goals from Eoin Morris, there were just three points between the sides at the break.
While the scoring eased a little in the second half, the pace of the game was maintained with play quickly switching from end to end.
Although Sperrin lost a player to a black card after 40 minutes, McCrellis, Luca O’Neill and Tiernan Floyd kept the pressure on Lisburn and it took a couple of frees from Morris and Dara Campbell to keep them in front going into the final few minutes when the south Derry side created a couple of clear goal chances.
In the end time ran out on Sperrin and Lisburn were celebrating a famous first win with Luke Delaney, Owen Mahoney, Christopher McGarr and Eoin Morris contributing most to the success.
St Patrick’s: Owen Mahoney 3-0, Eoin Morris 2-5 (0-4 frees), Dara Campbell 0-2 (frees), Dominic Doherty 0-1
Sperrin: Matthew McCrellis 2-3, Luca O’Neil 0-4, Tiernan Floyd 0-3, Fintan Kelly 0-1
St Patrick’s: Sean Prabucki, Sean O’Toole, Dominik Burawa, Gavin McAuley,Joseph McMahon, Tom Kearney, Callum Dean, Luke Delaney, Dominic Doherty, Dara Campbell, Christopher McGarry, Cormac Morris, Callum McKillion, Owen Mahoney, Eoin Morris
Subs: Caleb Turley for Gavin McAuley, Charlie McGrandles for Callum McKillion, James Barrett for Tom Kearney
Sperrin: David Skelly, Joseph Murray, Joey Mullan, Daniel McCrellis, Dylan McIlroy, Fintan Kelly, Jacob Ennis-McManus, Daragh Shannon, Thomas Mulholland, Cayden Cummings, Tiernan Floyd, Arden Goldridge, Jacob Painter, Luca O’Neil, Matthew McCrellis
St. Marys clinched the Danske Bank Brock Shield with a 3-07-1-08 win over Rathmore at the home of their South Belfast counterparts.
Rathmore goalkeeper Conor Sheridan was in inspired form throughout, making a smart stop early on, though Finn Smyth palmed the loose ball home to give his side an early advantage.
James Brownlee replied for the hosts, however they soon found themselves deep in arrears. Conan Mulligan swung over his sides first point of the afternoon and a quickfire double of goals left Rathmore with a mountain to climb.
St. Mary’s second goal came after an impressively worked team move that concluded with Phelan McCann slotting home and Finn Smyth soon bagged his second of the afternoon to give his side a 3-01-0-01 lead.
Successive frees from James Morrisey and Aodhan O’Hanlon cut the deficit and they were much needed scores for the hosts.
They would fall further behind at the interval though, Padraic Kelly hit back-to-back points. The first from play and the second a free off the deck, with Phelan McCann adding to his earlier goal to ensure his side were 3-04-0-03 ahead at the midway point in the decider.
St. Mary’s extended their lead upon the resumption through an angled point from Shea McGarry. That would the visitors last for a while as Rathmore hit a purple patch and gave themselves a lifeline.
James Morrisey added to his first half free with another from range and Aodhan O’Hanlon doubled his account from the same scenario.
O’Hanlon produced an excellent individual point and Patrick Hamill landed a fantastic score from range and their comeback was very much on when James Morrisey forced the ball home after St. Mary’s had initially cleared their lines.
Four points separated the sides (3-05-1-07) with Rathmore in the ascendancy, though points from Padraig Kelly and namesake Jack afforded their side slightly more breathing space.
Eoghan McGrady could only muster up a point for Rathmore late-on as St. Mary’s hung on for victory to clinch the Brock Shield.
Eoghan Smith was the St Louis Ballymena hero and his two penalty saves were instrumental as his side won the Corn Colmcille shield final after a penalty shot-out on Friday, beating St Ciaran’s Ballygawley at the Loup.
The two teams met nearly a month ago in the group stages of the competition with St Ciaran’s running out comfortable winners. Facing strong opposition in their group against Donaghmore and Carrickmacross the two teams found themselves in the shield section of the competition. St Louis put on a strong display again St Pius Magherafelt in the semi-final to look for redemption against the skilled Tyrone side.
Both teams played a brilliant brand of football without a sweeper in sight. The coniditons underfoot proved to be tricky after a lot of rain this week. There was little between the sides during the opening half with St Ciarans going 1 up at the break.
St Louis came out strong in the second half and used the long ball to great effect. Conor McKeever pulled the strings at 11 playing some great kick passes into the full forward line and It would be those long balls that caused the danger for the Ballymena side, two resulting in penalties that Jack McQuillan calmly slotted home.
The game looked like it was swinging in favour of St Louis as they went 2 up with 2 minutes to play but Ballygawley kept their cool to hit a brace of points and sent the game into extra-time.
Conor Burns re-started the game in lively fashion by beating his man but narrowly sliding his effort past the post. With no score in the first period of extra-time Leo Wright took the game by the scruff of the neck at the next throw-in to set PJ Molloy up on a trademark slaloming run, resulting in a score. Again the Tyrone men were not going to give up. After a trade of scores, St Ciaran’s had the last shot and with that, came penalties!
The hero of the shoot-out would be St. Louis keeper, Eoghan Smith who showed great composure to save two penalties. A special mention must go to the players on both sides who had the courage to step up to the spot.
Exceptional performances in the St Ciaran’s side came from their keeper Paidi Hetherington who made crucial saves throughout the game. Conal Shevling Jack Holland and Jack Kelly were strong performers in the middle of the park. Luke McCoubery and Lorcan O’Neill were constant dangers upfront.
Marcus McLaughlin conducted play from centre-half back constantly directing traffic and organising his defence. Sean Carty was a player to catch the eye with excellent ball control and great finishing skills reminding those watching on of another dangerous Ballygawley inside forward…
On the St Louis side Year 8 students Lorcan Martin, Oisin O’Brien and Paddy O’Boyle all stood out as star performers. The MOTM from St Ciaran’s was named as Conor McKeever while the St Louis management could not see past Patrick Carey’s commanding role in defence.
There is no doubt that these two teams will meet in the future in UlsterColleges competitons and they are sure to be classics!
Portglenone’s Niall Kelly and his St. Joseph’s Donnaghmore side are just one step away from All Ireland glory. Standing in their way are Abbey CBS, Tipperary when the sides meet at the Downs in Westmeath on Saturday.
There is a strong Antrim representation on the coaching staff at St. Joseph’s with Niall Kelly assisted by Paul Quinn, a former player with Casement’s Portgtlenone and Sean Turner, a coach with O’Donovan Rossa in Belfast.
The Saffron Gael have had the privilege of covering a number of St. Joseph’s game on their way to a first McLarnon Cup success this year and have been massively impressed by the football the Tyrone college have served up on their way to McLarnon success.
Unfortunately it has been Antrim schools who have felt the brunt of Niall Kelly’s side’s excellent attacking football in the knockout stages and the big man who played his football with Casement’s, Portglenone has his charges in great shape as they prepare to negotiate the final hurdle in what has been a ground breaking season.
Donnaghmore overcame the challenge of St. Mary’s CBGS, Belfast in this year’s McLarnon quarter-final and it was another Antrim school, St. Louis Ballymena who felt the full force of their attacking flair in the semi-final in Slaughtneil.
Rathmore Grammar from Belfast briefly threated to spoil the party for the Tyrone side in the McLarnon final at the ‘Dub’ when they led through an early goal but St. Joseph’s recovered from a slow start to draw level at half time before pulling away to win comfortably in the second half.
The Saffron Gael caught up with Niall Kelly this week and asked him about how he had come to be teaching in St. Joseph’s Donnaghmore, about his route to this weekend’s final and his thoughts on the team and his expectations.
Niall was actually a student at St. Louis, Ballymena, one of the sides that St. Joseph’s beat on their way to McLarnon success.
He told me “I attended St. Louis Grammar, Ballymena before continuing my studies in St Mary’s University College, Belfast. I qualified as a Business Studies Teacher in 2016. My parents own a Mace Shop in Dunloy, where I work most Saturdays, however, with the recent success in school football, I could be close to being replaced. I was involved in coaching the U20’s with our club last year and this year, I am assisting with the U15 team”
I asked Niall about his own playing career and what honours he had won with Portglenone.
“To be honest Paddy I didn’t have the playing career I would have liked. I played with Casements at underage before merging with Stinsons where we won a number of leagues and championships; the highlight was winning the Feile in 2007. With Casements, we won the U21 Championship in 2013 and luckily, I made it back from injury for the Ulster Campaign in Creggan, where we were edged out by a formidable Truagh Gaels. I went on to win several reserve leagues and championships. I was lucky to play with close friends Dermot McAleese and Niall Delargy who are the backbone of our club team. I played for Long Island in New York and Westmeath New York before returning home to complete my teaching degree. After completing the degree, I played in Sydney, Australia for the Cormac McAnallen team, where my time was cut short due to a significant knee injury. Despite numerous physio visits and rehab programmes I was advised there was too much damage done and had to retire from football at 28.
I then asked Niall “How long have you taught at St. Joseph’s Donnaghmore. Had you any previousappointments”?
“When I returned home from Australia in 2018, I took up a teaching post in St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore and I have been there ever since. The school, also known as ‘The Convent’ overlooks the village and is a fantastic place to work. I currently am Head of Year 10 and I teach Business Studies along with Key Stage 3 PE. The convent was formally an all-girls school, and the first admission of boys was 20 years ago, in 2003. The current Senior Team, who will represent the school on Saturday started in D College football and have won their first ever B College title in the McLarnon Cup a few weeks ago.I am not the only local man on the teaching staff – Paul Quinn is a former Casements player and Sean Turner is an underage coach from Rossa GAA Belfast”.
We went on to talk about the team’s journey to the final. The teams they played and how those games went?
“I suppose the Journey really started last year when we won our first McLarnon Cup Group game and went on to reach the semi-final where we were beaten by the eventual winners, Carrickamacross. We kept most of the panel this year and we could tweak our game plan and use the hurt of coming up short last year to get over the line this year. We started in the group with a difficult away fixture in Bessbrook, then Abbey VS Donegal and St. Pius Magherafelt. There was very little in these games which stood us in good stead for the knockouts. We then faced St Mary’s CBS, St Louis Ballymena and Rathmore Grammar in the final. The final was played in the Dub under lights; there was a fantastic atmosphere and for the first half Rathmore were strong, well drilled and were every bit as good as us. We were fortunate with a few goals, but it must be noted the score line did not reflect the game at all. Finally, we faced the Leinster Champions Ardee CS in Iniskeen on 25th February. They had eased their way through a Leinster Campaign and proved difficult opposition but luckily, we got the goals and the right time and came through on the winning side”
I continued by asking Niall what he knew about Saturday’s opponents, Abbey CBS Tipperary
“Well, Abbey CBS reached the final of this competition in 2016 and have won three of the last four Munster B titles. Their principal is none other than John Kiely, the Limerick Hurling Manager and coached by Tipperary Star, Conor Sweeney. Their team is littered with Tipperary and Limerick minors and U20’s. We would expect a physically strong, aggressive, and battle-hardened Tipperary Team who don’t know when they are beat, winning all of their games in the last quarter”
We then went on to talk about the St. Joseph’s Donnaghmore side.
Niall Kelly said “We are lucky to have a great bunch of feeder clubs including Donaghmore, Galbally, Carrickmore, Eglish and Dungannon to name but a few. Our Full Back Ben Hughes is with the Tyrone U20’s and Electric Minor All-Star, Joey Clarke and Noah Grimes have been key parts of the Tyrone Minors and Queen’s Future All Stars.
“Who were the players and the people who inspired you when you were growing up”
“First and foremost, my Father Seamus inspired me and my brother to take up football. He would follow all our games and even has ventured to the Donaghmore games recently.
From a playing perspective I was inspired by our club senior team following great club men like Damian O Hagan (Scotchy), Tony Convery, Marty McCarry and Owen Doherty.
From a coaching perspective many of the men above helped in that capacity too, along with Gerard McAleese and Ciaran Doherty who took us around the country. We are very fortunate in Portglenone as we have countless volunteers and underage coaches in our club and It is going from strength to strength. Regardless of the result on Saturday, I will be out helping with the U15’s come Monday evening”
I think I would speak for all Saffron Gael readers in wishing Niall Kelly and his colleague on the St. Joseph’s Donnaghmore coaching staff all the best on Saturday and from what I have seen of them this year I would expect St. Joseph’s to take the Paddy Drummond back home from Westmeath on Saturday evening.