Ballymena basking in Mageean final build up

By Shaun Casey

ST LOUIS Grammar, Ballymena qualified for the Mageean Cup final with a well-rounded display over St Patrick’s, Maghera in the semi-final to set up a decider date with St Killian’s, Garron Tower.

It’s their first final since their maiden triumph in 2015 and St Louis are hoping to lift the Mageean Cup for the second time.

“We possibly could have been in other finals and had teams capable of winning it but it’s nice to get back to a final,” said manager Conor Gillan.

“We actually have a new 4G floodlit pitch this year, it’s the first year we’ve had it. It’s been a massive benefit because with the changing of the times, come 4pm now it’s dark so we’re fit to get that session in after school without having to travel.

“The school as a whole, anything we’ve needed or wanted for the group of boys, we’ve got it. But when you have a group of boys like we have, it’s easy to work with.

“As a school we’re buzzing to be back where we are, and we look forward to Friday night.”

They’ve already come up against St Killian’s in the group stages, and that game finished all square.

“The boys all know each other very well due to rivalry down the school and club rivalry as well. Although that game was a good few weeks ago, there’s not a lot you can take from it,” the manager said.

“When we got to the semi-final you try to build on things that maybe didn’t go well and then try and bring the momentum from things that did go well (in the group stages).

“It’s going to be a puck of the ball between the teams, it’s going to be tight and tense like that game was.

“We’ll prep for it as best we can with the group of boys we have, and we look forward to it.

“Some of these boys are from my own club and you go to watch minor games around the county, but you hadn’t seen them in a school environment since fourth year.

“It was just ensuring that we, as a management, understood the quality that we had and we were putting them in the best places to show that quality.

“As the group stages went on, I feel we have built on that and then the semi-final too. Hopefully now they can bring their ‘A’ game on Friday night.”

One player in particular stood out in their semi-final victory wad free-taker Aidan McGarry, who recorded 0-13 on the day and nailed 11 of his 12 shots from frees.

“We actually have maybe three or four free-takers. Aidan started on them in the first game against Maghera and he’s been flawless since.

“He was fit to put some over in the semi-final from the guts of 100 yards, when you’ve got a free and you’ve got a dead ball specialist like that, it takes a bit of pressure off.

“He doesn’t seem to be phased by it so it’s great. He’s a down to earth fella and hopefully that form continues in the final.”

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