Fired-up St Ciaran’s aim for top marks in their biggest test yet
By John Campbell
St Ciaran's College, Ballygawley get the chance to prove themselves in a higher tier of Ulster Colleges’ football today when they meet Our Lady’s, Castleblayney in the MacLarnon Cup final at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (10.45am).
The Tyrone school have slowly but surely worked their way up the academic sporting ladder and now they find themselves on the cusp of what would be a notable success after their protracted dominance of the Vocational Schools sector.
But claiming the silverware will prove difficult against a Castleblayney side that won the competition in 2015 and boasts a number of particularly talented players.
Among them is joint skipper James Wilson, who bagged 2-5 in the 2-9 to 1-10 semi-final win over St Pius X, Magherafelt.
Frank Connolly and Aaron Courtney are other key players in a Castleblayney side which has charted a difficult course into today’s decider but which could yet show the benefits gleaned from their demanding itinerary.
St Ciaran’s, meanwhile, will have taken considerable heart from their 0-17 to 2-8 semi-final win over a resilient St Louis, Ballymena side, and joint skipper Pascal Donaghy makes it clear that a huge effort will be required if the ultimate glory is now to be gained.
“We were asked big questions in the semi-final but there is a good spirit in the side and we are very much up for this challenge,” said Donaghy.
Darragh Canavan can again prove a source of scores for the Ballygawley side while Caoimhin O’Donnell and Thomas Hoy might also influence proceedings.
Coach Brendan Treanor believes that the team’s elevation within the Ulster sector has been hard earned, but acknowledges that today will represent an acid test of their skills.
“We are going in against a side with a good record. I think if we play to our full potential we will not be too far away,” he stated.