Holders St Patrick’s, Maghera favourites to retain their crown in colleges final
Derry team face Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne who are managed by Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Conor Glass who forms an imposing midfield partnership with Conor Cassidy for St Patrick’s Maghera. Photo: Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
St Patrick’s get a big weekend for Derry football under way at Croke Park this afternoon. The holders still have seven players from last year’s success and that fact, combined with the strong record of McRory Cup winners in the All-Ireland, makes them favourites to retain the title.
Despite being able to field half of the team from last season, Maghera have had to adapt their style of play having lost a number of very big footballers to graduation.
“We try to be clever with the ball in terms of running a possession game,” said coach Paul Hughes during the week.
“A lot of ball winners moved on and so we had to change the style of play. Some of the lads we lost were more physically imposing but we’ve adapted well, I think.”
Their football hasn’t suffered and they emerged from the competitive Ulster campaign to defeat Dublin’s Coláiste Eoin in the semi-finals.
They have a top-class centrefield in Conor Glass and Conor Cassidy and corner forward Conor Convery is in form, having kicked seven from play in the semi-final.
Their opponents’ coach is Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice and the school has completed three-in-a-row in Munster. They are fired by an excellent full-forward line of Conchúir Ó Géibheannaigh, Cathal Ó Bambaire and Tomás Ó Sé and were emphatic winners in the semi-final against St Gerald’s Castlebar.
St Patrick’s however deserve to be favourites.
n The Drummond Cup final (SF B) provides local interest with St Aidan’s carrying the Dublin flag. They have every chance in an evenly balanced final although Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig showed impressive calm in recovering from an opening blitz by Holy Rosary Mountbellew. St Aidan’s showed enough in defeating St Eunan’s of Letterkenny in their semi-final to suggest they can come out on top.