Academy peaking at the right time

By Kieran Lynch

ST PATRICK’S Academy, Dungannon have taken the long route to the MacRory Cup semi-final, but having been a campaign of highs and lows, they might just be peaking at the right time.

Their manager Ciaran Gourley discussed their form, and he feels that they started well, before a dip in form which they have since recovered from as they prepare for Saturday’s last-four clash with Holy Trinity in Carrickmore (11.30am).

“I suppose at the start of the year we didn’t really know how well we were going to do, but we started off with a good win against Holy Trinity in the first match,” he explained.

“That win gave us belief and confidence in ourselves, and then we followed it up with another win against Armagh. But then we were disappointing against Magherafelt, which maybe gave us a reset.

“After the first two games we were top of the group, but then after that game we were third in the group.

“Down away to Enniskillen we didn’t make it easy for ourselves; we were seven points down before we actually started to play, and we turned that around and came out with a decent result. Then on Sunday, the boys were in the right frame of mind, and thankfully we got the win.”

On the last day out against St Macartan’s, Ronan Cassidy was the star of the show as he scored 2-7 in their 2-14 to 0-11 victory, and they will be looking to him to do the damage this weekend against Holy Trinity, Cookstown in the semi-final.

“Every team has to have marquee forwards, who they look to produce the scores when they’re needed,” said Gourley.

“In fairness to Ronan, he has stepped up and been a pivotal player for us. Also, Cookstown have plenty of outstanding individuals too, such as Ryan Quinn and Michael McElhatton.

“But that’s part and parcel of it. It’s another tough challenge, which I suppose you expect no matter who you play in the semi-final.”

With it being a Tyrone derby, the buzz of anticipation has gone up a notch within the school, and Gourley conceded that the noise is understandable, because if he was a player, he’d be ‘chomping at the bit.’

“Sometimes I keep myself removed from all of that, but I spoke to the players and let them know that there is going to be a bit of a buzz,” said the Dungannon manager.

“We have our open day on this week in the school as well, so there will be a wee bit of chat generated between the parents and stuff and that’s understandable. But if I was playing myself, I’d be chomping at the bit to get out there.”

St Patrick’s Academy had the advantage when the two teams collided in the first group game of the competition, but Gourley feels that it will count for little when the ball throws in on Saturday.

“They’re going to be dangerous opposition,” he said.

“We have to make sure that we prepare in the right way. If we think that what we did in the group match was good enough to beat them again, we will probably fall short.

“If both teams approach it with the right attitude, I can’t imagine that there will be much between the two teams this weekend.”

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