On Sunday three Mayo schools will go into battle to compete for a chance to bring the Aonghus Murphy Cup back to their domicile in a couple of weeks. Last year’s defending champions St Coleman’s, Claremorris, the side they defeated in the final last year St Gerald’s, Castlebar, and this year’s surprise league champions St Muredach’s, Ballina, are in all the final four of the competition. And who is the other side joining them there? While tradition would plump for the great Connacht football nursery St Jarlath’s, Tuam, who have picked up 12 Hogan Cups over their decorated history, double that of any other side in history, you would be wrong. This year has seen a changing of the guard, however temporarily, with Summerhill College, Sligo, making up the quartet.
The big game of Mayo interest is the clash of St Gerald’s and St Colman’s in Ballinrobe on Sunday at 2.30pm. With John Maughan on board with the Castlebar school St Gerald’s are going all guns blazing to bring the Aonghus Murphy Cup back to the Newport Road for the first time since 1996 and the third time in their history. Gerald’s have a game under their belt already, having seen off St Mary’s from Galway in the quarter final a couple of weeks ago, winning out by 1-12 to 1-8. Both sides have a number of last year’s Mayo minor panel to pick from with Caolan Crowe and Darren Coen lining out for the college’s side and Gerald’s having Fergal Durkin, Danny Kirby, Danny Geraghty, and Cillian O’Connor in their ranks. The sides didn’t meet in this year’s league, having beeen drawn in separate groups with St Gerald’s making the semi-final before losing out to St Jarlath’s, while St Coleman’s failed to make it out of their group. But there is still plenty of quality in the south Mayo school and with Danny McHugh and Vinnie Walsh running things from the sideline they will be well drilled. Last year’s meeting in the final was a tense tough affair and the same should be expected on Sunday.
In the other semi-final, St Muredach’s will be looking to make it an all Mayo final; having captured the league title not so long ago, the Ballina men should be favourites against the Sligo school. But Summerhill will be no easy pushover; after overcoming St Jarlath’s by 3-3 to 0-7 in the quarter final they have shown they are a tough side to grind down. Throw in for this clash is at 12.30pm in Tubbercurry.