THE tweets rolled in fast and furious following St Pat’s, Maghera’s absolute fesitval of champagne football at HQ last Saturday.
Former Derry star Ronan Rocks was one of the first to tweet: “Today gives you a great sense of pride that I was once a pupil of this school,” he said.
And not long after the dust settled St Pat’s coach Sean Marty Lockhart himself took to the social network mechanism. His message was simple: “Good players win the MacRory Cup. Special players win the Hogan Cup. Maghera are a special group of players.”
Hundreds of others took to their smartphones to pay tribute to Lockhart and Martin McConnell’s side, hailing this team’s haul of seven trophies in seven years as an extraordinary achievement and questioning whether they were the greatest team St Pat’s ever produced.
That’s a debate for another day. But last Saturday they were certainly the best from start to finish.
Both sides had massive insight and know-how to call upon - Maghera were guided by former Derry All-Star Sean Marty Lockhart, while Navan had Meath All-Ireland winner Colm O'Rourke at the helm.
But it was the Derry side clinched their fifth Hogan Cup title and first since 2003 in some style by absolutely blitzing St Pat's Navan by 1-20 to 1-10. The outcome was already looking good for the Ulster side at the break when they led 0-10 to 0-5 and three quarters of the way through Danny Tallon's goal really sent them on their way. Amazingly, en route, they hit a remarkable 1-18 from play with dangerman Gerald Bradley scoring 0-5.
Top drawer scores from Neil McNicholl, James Kearney and Stephen O'Hara saw them take an early grasp of the game while Navan did show signs of promise through Niall Lyons and James McEntee.
Indeed, they had something of a second chance when Robert Keeleghan’s goal early in the second half kept them in the hunt but the south Derry college went up a gear after that, hitting a combined total of 12 points through three players to romp home.
It was a special day for the McNicholl family as they landed their second Hogan Cup medal with Neil joining older brother Eoin on the winner’s podium 10 years after the elderberry got there. It was also a red-letter game for Danny Tallon who was awarded the man of the match award. However, possibly the most notable achievement of the day was 15 year-old wonder kid Conor Glass winning the title – what a prospect he is for the future.
When they look back at their season, though, they will reflect on an overall team ethic. Throughout this campaign goalkeeper Ciaran McCloy had to be at his best to make some crucial saves while last weekend the Maghera 15 set a new final scoring record. In 2010 St Colman’s hit 1-18 to earn that mantle until St Pat’s surpassed that mark on Saturday. Until last weekend no team had ever scored 21 times in a Hogan Cup final, nor had any team scored 18 times from open play. That’s the hallmark of champions.
“They haven’t been beaten in seven years in a championship match,” Lockhart said. “Since the start of this year they have been labelled with the favourites tag but that tag means nothing in the MacRory Cup because every team we came up against set up to defend against us – blanket defence, sweeper systems and so on. Our guys handled that pressure incredibly well.”
In the curtain raiser holders Holy Trinity Cookstown were beaten 2-13 to 2-12 by Granard in the Masita Vocational Schools ‘A’ Final.
Ryan Loughran grabbed an early Cookstown goal but that was cancelled out by Nigel Rabbitt's goal.Granard led by 2-7 to 1-4 at the break with Rian Brady, David McGivney and Nigel Rabbitte in top form.
Cnoc Mhuire suffered a blow when midfielder Aidan McElligott was sent-off for a second yellow offence but try gamely as they indeed did the reigning champions, managed by legend Peter Canavan, could not draw level and Cnoc Mhuire held on in a dramatic finale despite Cookstown substitute Jason Rocks grabbing a goal late on.
Meanwhile, the final competition on the Masita Post-Primary calendar took place yesterday (Sunday) at Navan with the meeting of Dungarvan CBS and St Mary's Belfast in the All-Ireland 'B' Hurling Final and resulted in an easy win for the Dungarvan side.
What a week it’s been for colleges hurling in Dungarvan – last week the combined colleges’ side won the ‘A’ title. A hefty number of that side were in action on Sunday and oversaw a fine 3-18 – 1-5 win over the Belfast outfit. Colin Dunford stood out at midfield to earn a win that was sealed by a classy second half display.
The final brought the 2013 Masita post-primary season to an end in spectacular fashion for Waterford and indeed crowned what was been a truly memorable year in second level hurling and Gaelic football.
STAT OF THE WEEK
St Patrick's, Maghera, are now third in the Hogan winners list behind St Jarlath's (12) and St Colman's (8).
NUMBER OF THE WEEK – 6
SIX out of the last EIGHT seasons MacRory Cup champions have become Hogan winners
Comhairle Iarbhunscoileanna now has it’s own youtube channel– PPGAATV.
Highlights of the following fixtures are now available on PPGAATV: www.youtube.com/PPGAATV
Dungarvan CBS v St.Mary’s CBGS