St Gerald’s College, Castlebar, will be packing their bags and making the long trip to Nenagh tomorrow to take on the three times in a row Corn Uí Mhuirí champions Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne at 3.15pm with a place in the Hogan Cup final up for grabs. The Kerry side claimed their provincial title with a win over De La Salle Macroom from Cork, with a five point win in Killarney three weeks ago on a score of 3-14 to 3-9. The Kerry side are managed by current Kerry senior football manager Eamon Fitzmaurice, while St Gerald’s are once again under the guidance of Daniel Forde and Tom Naughton, with Ger McDonnagh and Neil Douglas also coaching the team. Gerald’s picked up their second Connacht senior championship in a row a fortnight ago with a hard-fought win over St Attracta’s, Tubbercurry, putting together their first two in a row in the competition since 1996 and 1997 when they went all the way to the Hogan Cup final, before losing to St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon. Last year Gerald’s fell short at the semi-final stage losing 3-8 to 1-7 to the eventual winners St Patrick’s Maghera, while Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne lost out to St Patrick’s, Navan, in their semi-final.
This year’s St Gerald’s side is backboned by the trio of All Ireland minor medal winners Sean Conlon, Michael Plunkett, and team captain Michael Hall, while another All Ireland minor winner from last year Matthew Ruane had to make do with a place on the bench over the last few games as he recovers from injury.
The trio of Hall, Plunkett, and Conlon are all serious operators, with Plunkett starting for and Hall making a substitute appearance for the Mayo u21s in this year’s Connacht championship in their first year out of minor football.
In the provincial final, corner forward Philip Ruddy found the back of the net three times and the Castlebar corner forward will be a man the Kerry team will be keeping an eye on. Alongside Conlon and Hall in defence, full-back Patrick Bourke was the man of the match in the Connacht final, and the tough tackling Breaffy player will be relishing the change to go up against the best that Munster has to offer tomorrow.
In their Munster final Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne hit the back of the net three times themselves with the man Burke will probably be keeping tabs on, Cathal Ó Bambaire grabbing a hat-trick and a personal tally of 3-2 on the day. Séamus Ó Muircheartaigh kicked four points from frees in that final and St Gerald’s will be doing their best to avoid giving away cheap fouls in scoring range for the An Ghaeltacht clubman to have a cut at.
St Gerald’s have the firepower and the manpower to get on top of the Kerry school tomorrow and book a place in their second ever Hogan Cup final.