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29 Oct 2017
St Killian’s College 6-5 St Louis Ballymena 2-7

By John McIlwaine

St Killian’s powered their way to victory over St Louis in Friday evening’s final of the McNamee Cup (Year 9 Hurling) at Quinn Park, Ballymena. In an absorbing game of hurling the strength and power of the St Killians team was a telling factor in their sides win, but there was also skill in abundance, on both teams. The scoring power of the St Killian’s full-forward line had a big influence on the outcome of this game with big John V Morgan grabbing three from full-forward, Joseph Laughlin two from the left corner and Orrin O’Connor one from the right. In truth they were strong all over the field with Joe McNaughton strong on the 40, the McSparrans Mark and Aidan at centre back and midfield, Aidan’s midfield partner Patrick McIlwaine and Frankie McCormick who played in a variety of positons from full-back to left half forward during the game.

There were stars on the St Louis team as well of course with Odhran McGarry at centre back as good as anyone on the field. The little All Saints dynamo gave his all, and then some in an effort to get his team over the line, but had to settle for second in the end. Kevin O’Boyle, Jack McCloskey and the highly skilful Ronan McCollum were also stars in a great game of hurling.

St Killian’s came at St Louis like a steam train from the start and they were two goals to the good inside three minutes as corner-forwards Joseph McLaughlin and Orin O’Connor found the back of the St Louis net. Joe McNaughton added a point to put the Tower seven clear before Ronan McCollum settled the nerves with his team’s opening point on five minutes. When he added another a minute later things were starting to look more promising for St Louis but they were dealt a body blow soon afterwards when St Killian’s full-forward John V Morgan rattled the net at the other end and when Brogan O’Connor tacked on a point the gap was out to nine.

McCollum settled things again with his third point of the game, Kevin O’Boyle grabbed one from play and when full-forward Jack McCloskey rattled the back of the St Killian’s net the gap was suddenly down to four. With just four minutes of the first half remaining Frankie McCormick stretched the Tower’s lead to five again with a well taken point, but another fine strike from St Louis McColum cut the deficit to four again by half time.

If St Killian’s first half start was impressive, their start to the second period was even more so as they hit a barrage of scores to in the opening ten minutes to put the game out of St Louis reach. Joe McNaughton started it with a point from play before John V Morgan grabbed his second goal of the game McNaughton popped another point over and after John V had completed his hat-trick McNaughton split the posts once again to all but seal the win.

To their credit St Louis kept up the fight and nearing the end they gained some reward when Odhran McGarry sent over a point from a free and the lion hearted defender added the goal that his performance deserved when he sent the ball through a wall of defenders high into the net from a twenty metre free. However St Killian’s had the final say when their gifted corner-forward Joseph McLaughlin, whose early goal had opened the scoring, closed it with an even better one as he soloed through to give the St Louis keeper no chance with the final strike of the game to spark scenes of celebration.

St Killian’s scorers – John V Morgan 3-0; Joseph McLaughlin 2-0; Joe McNaughton 0-3; Orin O’Connor 1-0; Brogan O’Connor 0-1; Frankie McCormick 0-1.

St Louis scorers – Ronan McCollum 0-5; Odhran McGarry 1-1; Jack McCloskey 1-0; Kevin O’Boyle 0-1.


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