By Shaun Casey
ST KILLIAN’S Garron Tower needed a late goal to get past Cross and Passion, Ballycastle in the Mageean Cup semi-final and manager Padraig McIlwane was delighted to get a tough game under their belts as they prepare for Friday’s decider against St Louis at the Dub Arena.
“We had a comfortable enough victory over Knock and Maghera as well maybe in the group stages, but some of those teams in the group stages, what they have then in the knockout stages is nearly two completely different teams,” said McIlwane.
“We just knew that the semi-final was going to be a difficult draw for us, we knew we’d end up probably getting Cross and Passion. As it proved, it was a hard physical game, but it was exactly what our boys needed before this game.
“It worked out well for us, we felt we needed a really good game going into it. Cross and Passion, old rivals, so it was always going to be a difficult game, Cross and Passion could have equally gone on and won this competition as well.
“We feel that will stand to us come Friday, it was a proper championship game right up until the last five or ten minutes.”
In seeing off Cross and Passion, St Killian’s are back in the decider for the first time since 2016 and they also appeared in the 2006 final but lost out on both occasions. As is the case at schools level, the team changes every year.
“Although we’ve got a tradition of GAA sport in the school, we don’t have too many feeder clubs. We’re really relying on a few clubs to make up our teams,” added McIlwane.
“It just depends on what we have each year and the boys over the last couple of years have probably been punching above their weight and hopefully that will continue on Friday night.
“The team changes every year and it’s about keeping them involved. You could have a good team down the school but so many things happen as they get older, and they drift off and some of them don’t stay to do A-Levels and different things.
“Luckily over the last number of years, a lot of our players have been staying on to go on and do their A-Levels, which really makes a difference to your senior team.
“We’re delighted just to be there now. 2016 was our last time in the final so there’s a great buzz around the school and everybody is looking forward to it.
“ The staff are looking forward to it, the pupils are looking forward to it, the parents as well.
“The whole community will get behind us this week. It’s been a quick turnaround because our semi-final was last Thursday, so you really only have a week and a day and then you’re straight into the final.
“You can see the anticipation and the press days for the boys and all that goes with it, it’s great for them. Everybody is looking forward to it now and we’re raring to go for Friday night.”