Cross and Passion preparing for familiar foes

By Shaun Casey

CROSS and Passion, Ballycastle are looking forward to their first appearance in a Mageean Cup final in four years as they take on St Killian’s, Garron Tower on Friday night.

Joe Cassidy’s side last won the competition in 2020, beating St Mary’s CBGS in the final and are looking forward to being back at that stage again.

“It’s great to get to a final and it’s our first final in four years,” said the school’s vice-principal and manager. “It’s a great occasion for the lads to be a part of and because we haven’t been there in four years, then it makes it even more special.

“The fact that it’s up in the Dub, there’ll be a big crowd and a good atmosphere under the lights, so it all adds to the occasion and it’s something that we’re all looking forward to now on Friday night.

“St Killian’s maybe have that added advantage in that they got to the final last year, and they probably have the guts of nine or ten of their starting team back again where they’ve had a dress rehearsal for it.

“We’re probably in a similar boat where we have maybe eight or nine lads that will be back again next year.”

St Killian’s offer a familiar challenge that Cross and Passion have faced right throughout the years and the pair had been eyeing each other up as final opponents all season.

St Killian’s came out on top when the two teams crossed paths in last season’s semi-final, although they lost to St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena in the showpiece. There’ll be no shocks on the cards as both teams know each other fairly well.

“Last year we were really young and last year, it would have been great to get to a final just to get the experience but unfortunately, we just weren’t good enough on the day and St Killian’s beat us,” added Cassidy.

“It was a fairly drab game to be honest and sometimse what can happen with young lads, they know each other that well. It’s pretty much Cushendall and Glenariff (St Killian’s) against Loughgiel, Ballycastle and I suppose half of Dunloy (Cross and Passion).

“Those teams over the last three or four years have just been the main team at underage level in Antrim so they know each other inside out and sometimes when you get that bit of familiarity that can lead to a niggly game.

“Both teams would have been favoured to reach the final, they’re the two best teams and have been. This cohort of lads in Year 14, we won the Year 8 competition, St Killian’s won the McNamee which was u13.5 then Covid kicked in.

“These lads missed the whole of u14.5 and u15.5 and then then two years ago at Foresters level, both of us got to the final and they beat us well so probably the only way we wouldn’t have met in the final would have been if we met in the semi-final or something.”

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