Disappointment for battling St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Magherafelt 2-6 Colaiste Oiriall Monaghan 3-10

PPS U20 Ladies final

There was disappointment for the girl’s from St. Mary’s Magherafelt and their Moneyglass contingent when they were beaten in the Ulster College’s PPS U20B final in Clones on Thursday. A game originally scheduled for Garvaghy had to be switched owing to snow on the Garvaghy pitch but in windy condition both sides served up an entertaining final.

St. Mary’s enjoyed the benefits of the wind in the opening half and might well have been further ahead at the break when they led 1-5 to 1-3 with Aoife Kelly producing a strong run and an astute delivery and the excellent Keenan getting the touch in a race with the keeper to finish to the net for their opening goal.

The strong running Scotstown girl, Corrigan got the Colaiste Oiriall goal to give her side the lead but St. Mary’s continued to enjoy the better of the exchanges and Maria O’Neill led the way with a series of excellent points as the South Derry girls led by two at the interval.

They looked to have it all to do as they faced a strong breeze in the second half but a superb goal from Maria O’Neill on the restart put a bit of daylight between the sides.

Slowly though Colaiste Oiriall began to reel in the St. Mary’s lead but the Derry defence stood strong with their opponents forcing a series of ‘45’s’. Eventually the pressure paid off with Sherry collecting a loose ball to fire to the net and give her side a one point lead going into the second water break.

Trailing by three going into the closing stages, St. Mary’s threw everything at the opposition but could not turn good possession into score and they were caught with a sucker punch goal that killed off their challenge.

Despite defeat St. Mary’s can take a lot of positives from this final with the South West girls, Maria O’Neill, Aoife Kelly, Ciara Scullin and Sarah O’Neill all making a big contribution to what has been a great year for the South Derry College.

That story hasn’t ended yet and tomorrow at the Athletic Grounds St. Mary’s footballers will take on Holy Trinity Cookstown in the MacRory Cup final with Kevin Brady from Moneyglass and John McKeever from Portglenone in charge of the respective sides while St. Mary’s have a strong representation in their side from the South West Antrim area.

Former Antrim colleagues in opposite corners for MacRory final

MacRory Cup Final preview

St. Mary’s Magherafelt v Holy Trinity Cookstown.

Earlier in the week we spoke to Niamh Hughes, manager of St. Mary’s Magherafelt ladies team about the influence of players from the South West Antrim area on the side that will contest Thursday’s PPS U20 Final at Garvaghy against Colaiste Oiriall of Monaghan and the article received a great response from our readers.

It’s been a big week for the South Derry College and on Sunday their footballers take on Holy Trinity, Cookstown in the MacRory Cup final at the Athletic Grounds Armagh. Like the ladies team, St. Mary’s have a strong representation from South West Antrim with no less than four clubs from the area represented on the panel.

Add to that the fact that both sides are managed by men from the South West, Kevin Brady and John McKeever, former colleagues on the Antrim county team, so the final is sure to attract quite a sizeable support from the South West Antrim area and indeed throughout the county.

Earlier in the week I spoke to Kevin Brady, former Moneyglass and Antrim player and manager of the ’Convent’ and first of all I asked him, Who are the South West players on the St. Mary’s team and panel and what clubs do they play for?

The South West Antrim contingent: Conhuir Johnston, Sean Byrne, Sean McAuley, Kevin Brady (Manager), Benen Kelly, Tom Shivers and Paul Duffin

Kevin Brady: We have a strong representation from clubs in the South West. Three players from Erin’s Own, Cargin – Conhuir Johnston, Tom Shivers and Benen Kelly, Paul Duffin from Moneyglass, (a son of Garry Duffin whom I played alongside for Moneyglass back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s), Sean Byrne from Portglenone (who will be coming up against his new Senior Club Manager John McKeever) and Sean McAuley from Creggan (whose Father Kevin teaches in our school and Sean’s Uncle is of course former Creggan and Antrim great, Sean McAuley). Jarlaith McKeating from St Comgall’s in Antrim is also a panel member but has been out injured all season. I also of course used to play with and against John McKeever from Portglenone so we are friends as well as rivals on Sunday.

I continued, tell me something about these players and the impact they have made to the St. Mary’s success this year.

Kevin Brady: All these players have been at St. Mary’s since Year 8 and have progressed through the ranks very well. Some of these boys have played in a Rannafast Cup final 2 years ago when they were narrowly beaten by Maghera. The Year 13 boys (Conhuir, Sean Byrne and Paul Duffin also won the Year 11 competition 2 years ago when they shared the Oisin McGrath shield with St. Colman’s – the final wasn’t played due to Covid. Conhuir Johnston also played on the MacRory team as a Year 11 pupil.

The St. Mary’s manager went on to tell me about his side’s season, who they played in the qualifiers and what he knew about their opponents in the final.

Kevin Brady:  We beat St. Patrick’s Armagh, the Abbey and Our Lady and St. Patrick’s Knock in the group stages. Then we beat St. Patrick’s Dungannon in the Quarter-final and Omagh CBS in the semi-final. We haven’t played Holy Trinity Cookstown this year, even in a challenge match but we know they will be a very formidable team. They have a lot of talented players and have been knocking on the door for a few years now. They also have a very experienced management team with John McKeever alongside Peter Canavan.

There is another connection amongst the St. Mary’s management team to the South West with the Cargin contingent coached by their new senior team manager. I asked Kevin about his management-coaching team.

Kevin Brady: I’m joined on the management team by Ronan Devlin (the Cargin manager-Ronan has been coach at Cargin for the last four years before becoming manager for the coming season) and John McElholm from Loughmacrory. Both John and Ronan have a lot of experience in the management/coaching game and have been a great help to me again this season. 

I then asked Kevin about his panel and their state of health going into Sunday’s final.

Kevin Brady: Everyone is fit and healthy at the minute thankfully. We have appealed the sending off of our full back Niall Rafferty (who was sent off in the semi-final) and the hearing is on Monday night. Niall was given a straight red card towards the end of the victory over Omagh.

Good news for St. Mary’s. Niall Rafferty had his Red card decision overturned at an appeal on Monday night and is available to play in Sunday’s final.

There are no South West players in the Holy Trinity panel but of course there is a South West connection with their manager, John McKeever hailing from Portglenone. John has a strong managerial C.V. and has managed several clubs in Tyrone and will be assisted by former Tyrone great, Peter Canavan.

McKeever and Canavan have just taken up the reins as Casement’s manager for the coming season while another Cargin and former Antrim player, Kevin O’Boyle teaches in the school and manages the Year 11 team so there may be a divided loyalty from the South West support

Sunday’s final should be another cracker with both side showing impressive form on their journey to the decider. The Saffron Gael hope to have someone at the final and will carry photographs and a report from the game.


South West influence important as St. Mary’s face busy ‘final’ week

St Louis defeat in the quarter-final of the MacLarnon Cup ended Antrim schools interest in Ulster College’s football competition this year though we performed much better on the hurling and camogie front.

It’s the football we look at with some envy this week however but we can take some comfort from the performances of St. Mary’s Magherafelt and the contribution players from South West Antrim have made in their journey to this weekend’s MacRory Cup final and the Ladies PPS U20B final.

This week I spoke to the managers of both the ladies and football teams and asked them about the South West Antrim influence on both teams and first of all we take a look at the ladies team who face Coláiste Oiriall onThursday 10th Feb at 12noon in Garvaghy and sought the opinion of their manager, Niamh Hughes. 

First of all I asked the Tyrone lady who were the South West players on the St. Mary’s team and panel and what clubs did they play for.

Niamh Hughes: Aoife Kelly, Maria O’Neill, Ciara Scullin and Sarah O’Neill all play for Moneyglass.

I then asked her to tell me something about these players and the impact they have made to the St. Mary’s cause this year.

Niamh Hughes: Moneyglass Ladies have made an outstanding impact on Ladies Football here at St. Mary’s. Previous players include Orlaith Prenter and Cathy Carey who set the standard high for the rest to follow. The current players have maintained that standard, proving to be key players within the team. Aoife and Sarah, are playing an age group above their own which emphasises their ability and talent. Ciara has been playing at full back this year, and to date has been outstanding at this position. Ciara shows determination and has a ‘want to achieve’ that allows her to dominate the defence. Maria O’Neill is St. Mary’s only Ladies All-Star this year, which has never been more deserved. Maria is also the joint Captain of this U20 Team. She was selected for this role due to her great leadership on the pitch. When in need of a goal, look no further than Maria!

I asked Niamh about her season with St. Mary’s and who they played in the qualifiers and what you know about your opponents in the final.

Niamh Hughes: St. Mary’s qualified top of their group having beat, St. Pius X, Loreto, Omagh and Holy Trinity, Cookstown. Following this we played St. Claire’s Ballyjamesduff of Cavan in the Quarter Final, and Loreto, Milford of Donegal in the Semi-Final. We play Colaiste Oiriall of Monaghan in the final and undoubtedly they will be well prepared, like ourselves for the final.

I asked her about her management team and the part they have played in taking St. Mary’s to this year’s PPS final.

Niamh Hughes: There is myself, Conor McCauley and Ciaran O’Neill. Conor is a past pupil of St. Mary’s and now Head of Business Studies and Ciaran is on placement this year. Both are a great help to the Ladies Gaelic. I have coached the girls from they were year 8/9 so it has been great this year to have a different voice.

Niamh concluded by giving me an update on her squad and who she felt were the players who might get them over the line on Thursday.

Niamh Hughes: Kate Higgins was a huge blow to the team when she unfortunately broke her collar bone during the quarter final. Maria O’Neill has been in top form this year alongside her half-forward partner Eilis Keenan. Eilis is now playing on the Tyrone Senior Panel which has brought her on even more.

St. Mary’s are likely to have a big support from South West Antrim on Thursday. Moneyglass have had another excellent season in Antrim and Aoife Kelly, Sara O’Neill and Maria O’Neill were all on the Antrim Minor team who comprehensively defeated Monaghan in the opening game of the Ulster Minor League on Saturday.

Aoife Kelly retired injured from that game but hopefully will be fit for Thursday. Incidentally Colaiste Oiriall are from Monaghan so hopefully that is a good omen for St. Mary’s going into Thursday’s final.

Finally, the Saffron Gael wish St. Mary’s Magherafelt the best of luck in the final and we hope to have someone at the final and will carry a report and photographs from the game later in the week.

Tomorrow we speak to Kevin Brady, manager of the St. Mary’s football team who play Cookstown in this weekend’s MacRory Cup final and the influence the South West has had in their success to date.

Tower power through to Foresters final

Danske Bank Foresters’ Cup semi-final

St Killian’s Garron Tower 3-16 Our Lady’s & St Patrick’s Knock 2-6

St. Killian’s Garron Tower turned in a power packed performance to overcome a battling St Patrick’s Knock in a game that was well as good as over at half time, at Dunsilly today.

St. Killian’s came racing out of the starting blocks with Peadar McDonnell pointing and Joseph McLaughlin firing to the net and when Callum McIlwaine followed with another point with just two minutes on the clock it wasn’t looking good for St. Patrick’s

To their credit Knock began to settle and Shea Pucci hit back with a goal for Knock after seven minutes. However goals from Oisin Woodhouse and McDonnell in the 12th and 19th minutes put the Tower firmly in control by half time with a 3-7 to 1-4 advantage.

St. Patrick’s Knock tightened up in defence during the second half, cutting out the route to goal but they were never able to get the scores that might have brought them into the game as the North coast side continued to rack up the points to put further daylight between the sides.

St Killian’s kept matters tight at the back with McLaughlin hitting five points to bring his personal tally to 1-7 over the hour, while the second Knock goal from Ethan McCarthy was the final score of the game.

Joseph McLaughlin, Peadar McDonnell, Oisin Woodhouse, Phelim Ward and Callum McIlwaine were the pick of a sharp and skilful St. Killian’s side while Ben Taggart was Knock’s best player and Pucci, Conor Boyle and Luke Doran also worked hard, but the power of the Tower forwards was just too much for them.

St Killian’s: Joseph McLaughlin 1-7, Peadar McDonnell 1-3, Oisín Woodhouse 1-1, Phelim Ward 0-2, Calum McIlwaine 0-1, Cailin Devlin 0-1, Cormac McKeown 0-1

Knock: Shea Pucci 1-2, Ethan McCarthy 1-0, Ben Taggart 0-1, Eoin Kelly 0-1, Rory McCamphill 0-1, Frank Kane 0-1. 

Johnston fires St. Mary’s to MacRory final

MacRory Cup semi-final

St. Mary’s Magherafelt 1-10 Omagh CBS 1-7

A goal from Cargin’s Conhuir Johnston in the 52nd minute proved the vital score as St. Mary’s Magherafelt turned in a strong performance to defeat Omagh CBS in the MacRory Cup semi-final at the Athletic Grounds last night.

Johnston and his Erin’s Own colleague’s, Benen Kelly and Tom Shivers played vital roles as the Convent recovered from a shaky start to outscore the Tyrone side with Johnston’s goal the score that finally put the Omagh challenge to bed while Kelly certainly played his part with a converted ‘45’ and another from play that sailed over via the crossbar.

It was Omagh CBS that got off to the brighter start when Conor McGillion fired to the net in the third minute after taking an inch perfect pass from Oisin Gormley before rounding his marker and firing to the St. Mary’s net.

Caolan Donnelly added a point as Omagh enjoyed early supremacy but Conhuir Johnston settled the Convent with a great point and another from Ryan Donnelly closed the gap to the minimum after being set up by Eoin McEvoy.

It was Omagh who were enjoying the better of the exchanges at this stage however and both Simon Matterson and Ruairi Forbes came to the St. Mary’s rescue with vital goal preventing blocks but Ronan Strain and Eoin McElholm added point to move the CBS three ahead.

Magherafelt might have been back on terms moments later when a good build up saw Niall O’Donnell in on goal but his effort was well saved by Omagh keeper, McAnearney before Cahir Quinn settled for a point from the follow-up.

Johnston’s Cargin colleague, Benen Kelly then pointed a ‘45’ before Ruairi Forbes followed with another from play to bring the side’s level and it looked anybody’s game approaching half time.

Late exchanges from McGillion for Omagh and Quinn for St. Mary’s left it level at half time, 1-4 to 0-7 and all to play for in the second half.

Both defences dominated during the opening stages of the second half though the Magherafelt side looked in for a goal with only three minutes gone but Benen Kelly’s well struck effort clipped the crossbar as it sailed over.

Ryan McEldowney added a point to move St. Mary’s two in front but McGillion replied for the Tyrone side but it was Magherafelt who were starting to edge the exchanges and when Johnston got in for an excellent goal the momentum was very much with Kevin Brady’s side.

Omagh pressed in the closing stages but the St. Mary’s defence stood strong with Omagh CBS having to settle for late points from Conor Owens and McGillion as the Convent advanced to the final with three to spare.

The St. Mary’s side once again have a strong representation from South West Antrim with Moneyglass man, Kevin Brady manager of the side and Conhuir Johnston, Benen Kelly and Tom Shivers from Cargin, Sean Byrne from Portglenone and Paul Duffin from Moneyglass all important member of the Magfherafelt squad.