St Mary’s go in search of a second Leinster Colleges Senior Football A title this Saturday and based on the their performance in the second-half of their impressive semi-final win over defending Dundalk Colleges, the Edenderry school have what it takes to bring more silverware back to the North Offaly school.
In that second-half they were close to unstoppable with Cian McMonagle, Ruairi McNamee and Ger Leech doing most of the damage as they ripped the opposoition to shreds. While they were defensively strong throughout and Conor McNamee and Daniel Grehan held sway in midfield, they were nothing like as clinical in the opening half of that game and needed the ‘hairdryer treatment’ at half-time to get them into gear.
The fact that they kicked 11 wides and, with the exception of hat-trick hero McMonagle, that they were lacking composure in front of goals will be an area that Emmett McDonnell and his management team will have worked on. Overall however there were far more positives to take from that game than negatives and in particular the performance of the young but influential Ruairi McNamee.
It is hard not to draw parallels between the way McNamee plays and how, at a similar age, his club-mate Anton Sullivan played in St Mary’s run to winning the All Ireland B title in 2007. The latest talent produced in Rhode has the same vision and guile and, as was the case with Sullivan, the 15 year old has been eased into the mix to the point where he is now having a major impact on games.
Most pundits were expecting league winners Moate CS to come through the other semi-final but Dublin side Colaiste Eoin had other ideas and took advantage of chances gifted to them to knock out the highly touted Westmeath school.
On the balance of play Moate should have stayed on course for a league and cup double. They kicked a very healthy 14 points over the hour and held the upper hand in terms of territory and possession however the concession of two very soft goals ultimately cost them a place in the final.
Colaiste Eoin are a strong, workmanlike side and as they showed against Moate they will take their opportunities when the chance arises. They may have some selection choices to make ahead of the final as their subs made a major impression to the pace of their game once introduced.
They know how to win close games with one point wins over Good Counsel (1-5 to 1-4) and Moate CS (2-9 to 0-14) to their names. They have also shown they know to win big when they get up a head of steam as they did against Colaiste Iosagain in the South Leinster League semi-final (4-14 to 1-4) and against Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar in the Leinster quarter-final (2-11 to 0-5).
There is no doubt they are a strong team and St Mary’s will find it harder to break them down than they did Dundalk Colleges but even allowing for that, the Edenderry school have to be considered the favourites.
They will have to be on their game and they certainly cannot afford to be as wasteful in front of goals as they were in the semi-final but on or near top form, they should have enough to claim their second Leinster title