St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s College, Claudy will seek to become Ulster champions on Wednesday when they take on St. Malachy’s, Castlewellan in the final of the Ulster Bank Under 14 McDevitt Cup at the Dub in Belfast (throw-in 11.30am).
The local boys have already accounted for Armagh champions and holders St. Paul’s Junior High School, Lurgan in a thrilling semi-final in the Mid-Ulster Sport Arena in Cookstown where Liam McElhinney’s Claudy team scored a 3-18 to 6-08 victory.
In the semi-final we had nine different scorers and every player has played their part. This has been a real collective effortClaudy coach Liam McElhinney
“The boys have been superb from number 1 to 30 throughout the run in Derry and into Ulster,” said Mr. McElhinney, “We have been playing against some really big schools but the football has been first class. The semi-final was a fantastic game but now we are fully focused on the final.
“St. Malachy’s are another big school. We don’t know a lot about them but when you look at some of their results we know it is going to be a tough game.”
St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s defeated St. Mary’s, Clady in the Derry final at Owenbeg before embarking on an Ulster campaign which began with a 6-14 to 3-09 quarter-final win over Breffni College, Cavan.
Craigbane’s Oisin McCloskey has been in fine scoring form in the provincial tournament, registering 3-10 in Ulster to date but Mr. McElhinney stressed every member of the panel has played their part.
“The great things with these boys is they don’t care who gets the scores as long as the team win,” he explained, “In the semi-final we had nine different scorers and every player has played their part. This has been a real collective effort from all the players.”
Claudy captain Shea McConomy is from Slaughtmanus and forms a strong midfield pairing with Jack McCloskey, an area which is likely to key against St. Malachy’s. Alongside the likes of full-back Ryan Cunning, centre-half back Luke Murphy, full-forward Ryan Brown and McCloskey, the local school has a talented central spine running through their starting 15 and plenty of options on the bench.
The lads were also given a surprise talk last Friday by Derry and Slaughtmanus star, Chrissy McKaigue, who is preparing for next Tuesday’s All Ireland Senior Club final against Galway’s Corofin in Croke Park.
“Chrissy was excellent,” added Mr. McElhinney, “It was all very ‘Slaughtneil’ in that he kept the focus on the team and the collective effort. The boys took in everything he said and hopefully we can put it into practice and bring the Ulster title back to St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s.”