Conor Glass is one of the youngest players in the St Patrick’s College, Maghera side that will meet St Patrick’s Classical School, Navan in tomorrow’s Hogan Cup final at Croke Park, but he has certainly given himself a lot to live up to.
In the Maghera school’s 3-8 to 1-7 All Ireland semi-final victory over St Gerald’s Castlebar, Glass, who occupied the right-full-back position, drove forward to land not one but two of his side’s goals in an impressive display of quality finishing.
Now the Glen clubman is being viewed not only as a key cog in the defence for tomorrow’s final but also as an additional potent scoring threat.
And this certainly pleases joint coach Martin McConnell who, along with Sean Martin Lockhart, has fashioned a side that is now on the cusp of ultimate glory for the first time in 10 years.
“Conor certainly showed a sharp eye for goals in the semi-final and, naturally, we are hoping that he can replicate this sort of form tomorrow. But we will get it tough against this Navan side who looked very strong both in winning their Leinster title and then in winning their All Ireland semi-final,” says McConnell.
The latter was a 2-7 to 0-11 success over Munster champions Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, but the fact that the Navan side is coached by former Meath All Ireland winner Colm O’Rourke, who is the school principal, has had much to do with their progress.
O’Rourke now has his team geared up for what he feels will be “a very strong challenge” from the Maghera side.
“Any team that wins the MacRory Cup in Ulster is always a force to be reckoned with, that’s my experience,” says O’Rourke, a well-known RTE gaelic games analyst, “I know that Maghera will come to Croke Park thinking only of winning the trophy, that will be their mind-set.”
While Glass proved the ace in the Maghera pack in the semi-final, they are certainly far from being a one-trick pony.
James Kearney and Peter Cassidy, son of former Derry manager Damian Cassidy, form the midfield pairing while Conor Carville is a resolute centre-half-back.
Up front, Gerald Bradley pulls the strings at centre threequarters while Stephen O’Hara is an imposing full-forward and Danny Tallon a sharp, elusive corner forward.
McConnell has confidence in his side.
“We have become more cohesive as the season has progressed and the majority of this team have been playing together for several years now. This should stand to us on Saturday.”