Semi-final defeat for St Patrick’s

Forrester’s Cup

St Patrick’s Maghera 3-10

CPC, Ballycastle 5-23

THE senior hurling season in St Patrick’s Maghera came to an end on Thursday past when the College U16½ team suffered a heavy defeat to old rivals Cross and Passion, Ballycastle in the Forrester’s Cup semi-final at Dunloy.

These two groups of players had last met at Gallagher Cup (U14½ ) level when St Patrick’s had come out on top although Ballycastle had scored a big win over the Derry school at U15 ½ level earlier this school year. With the weather conditions and Dunloy pitch both excellent for hurling a tight contest was expected.

That was exactly how the game began with both teams battling hard for early supremacy. St Patrick’s were facing in to a slight breeze but were working hard enough around midfield in the early stages to prevent this being a major disadvantage. Early scores went the way of Ballycastle but St Patrick’s did manage to stay in touch from placed balls – although their inability to score freely from open play would become more of a problem as the game wore on. The opening quarter remained close with only a few points between the teams and as the half entered the last ten minutes St Patrick’s would have been pleased with the 0-9 to 0-6 deficit they faced. The closing minutes though changed the complexion of the game completely. The Maghera defence had become increasingly stretched and with Ballycastle working hard to isolate their two man full forward line goals became a distinct possibility. And that’s exactly what happened in a five minute spell, a lack of cover and support at the back allowed the Antrim boys plunder 2-3 without reply and they were now 12 points ahead. St Patrick’s did rally to grab two points before the break but there was already a sense of the damage having been done.

Needing a good start to the second half Maghera got their wish when the ball was lashed to the Ballycastle net to cut the lead to eight points, another major and the game would have turned again. The stronger response to the goal came though from the Ballycastle team. Over the next ten minutes they fired seven points without reply and were suddenly in a position of not even needing goals as St Patrick’s were already resigned to defeat. The Derry school did get two goals in the closing stages but by then Ballycastle had cut through a very open Maghera defence for three goals of their own – the contrast obvious in the numbers Ballycastle were able to get back in to their own defence when Maghera attacked to prevent scores while they continuously enjoyed one on one battles when on the attack themselves. Added to this was the dominance of possession by the Antrim boys in the middle third, whether in the air or on the ground, and St Patrick’s will have few complaints about the result. Ballycastle will now meet St Mary’s Belfast in an all-Antrim Forresters Cup final.

St Patrick’s: Brendan McEldowney, Paddy Cunningham, Conor McGrellis, Conor McGurk, Frank McEldowney, Jimmy McMeel, Paul Gunning, Stephen O’Hara, Gerald Bradley (0-2), Padraig Cassidy, Martin Mulgrew (1-1), Mark McGuigan (1-0), Niall Farren, Shane McGuigan, Cormac O’Doherty (0-7, 6f) Subs: Peter Cassidy for Conor McGurk, Jack English for Shane McGuigan, Damian Cassidy for Frank McEldowney, Sean Quinn (1-0) for Mark McGuigan, Shane McGuigan for Stephen O’Hara, Cathal Quinn (inj), Meehaul McGrath (inj)