Tomorrow afternoon in Ballina the latest crop of St Gerald’s College, Castlebar, footballers will attempt to claim another Connacht senior title for the school. Last year saw the school claim the last ‘colleges’ only crown, before the separate colleges and vocational schools championships were blended together into one.
A fortnight ago saw St Gerald’s and their opponents St Attracta’s, Tubbercurry, book their spots in tomorrow’s decider in James Stephen’s Park. The Castlebar school were very impressive in their 2-9 to 1-7 win over Summerhill from Sligo. The gap was only five points at the end thanks to a last gasp goal from the Yeats County side. All Ireland minor winner Michael Plunkett was the main man for Gerald’s, with the Ballintubber man scoring 1-5 over the hour, his fellow half-forward Rhyne Collins also bulged the back of the Summerhill net on the day. Plunkett and Collins along with the likes of Gareth Dunne and Jarlath O’Malley are a part of a formidable attacking unit, it is at the back the Castlebar school have a formidable foundation. Their half-back-line of Dara Morrin, Michael Hall, and Sean Conlon in particular are as good as you can find at this level, with Conlon and Hall both already having All Ireland minor winners medals in their back pockets. While the full- back-line marshalled by the teak-tough Patrick Bourke with Colum Dravins and Sean Kelly either side are solid rearguard.
Standing in their way on Sunday is the surprise package of St Attracta’s, Tubbercurry, who saw off the challenge of the most famous of schools football nurseries, St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, in their semi-final. They gritted it out and came through a few late scares to get over the line by a point against the Tuam men on a score of 1-8 to 0-10. The Tubbercurry side trailed by 0-6 to 1-1 at the break, but they put the wind to good advantage outscoring the Tuam side by 0-7 to 0-4 in the second half to seal the win. Darragh Kilcoyne was their top-scorer kicking five points (three from frees ) over the hour, while Jason Perry scored 1-1, his goal coming from the penalty spot after he himself had been fouled just before the break, turning a comfortable lead into a very narrow one. Stephen Connolly was the man who kicked the winning score in their semi-final with five minutes left on the clock, and after turfing out the most famous school in the country, they will have no doubts they can put it up to the best Castlebar can offer.