At 2pm on Saturday afternoon, the hopes and dreams of three Mayo schools will all come down to what happens on the football field, as St Colman's College, Claremorris, Ballinrobe Community School and Our Lady's, Belmullet, all go looking for victory on the field of battle.
Despite St Colman's and Ballinrobe Community School both facing Munster opposition in the semifinals of the All Ireland Senior Post Primary A and B football championships respectively, and a number of players from the same clubs representing both sides, the organisers of the competition have decided to fix the games for two different venues at the same time, just a few miles apart. St Colman's will take on St Brendan's, Killarney, in Cusack Park in Ennis, while Ballinrobe Community School will face off against Cork outfit Coachford College in Tulla just 18km to the east.
Our Lady's looking to become legends
While both of the south Mayo outfits are looking to book a place in the final of their respective competitions, the lads from Our Lady's in Belmullet will be in action in the Ignatius Rice final (Senior D ) against Oaklands Community College from Edenderry in Carrick-on-Shannon. John Reilly's men had to dig deep last week to see off the challenge of Boherbue Community School from Cork to come out on top three point winners on a score of 2-16 to 1-16. Marty Boylan kicked a late, late, score to send the game into extra time, with the Cork side trying to hold on to a lead after they were reduced to 13 men for the closing stages of normal time. The break before the restart allowed the Our Lady's side to settle their nerves and when Ryan O'Donoghue found the back of the net from the penalty spot early in extra time it set them on the road to victory and this Saturday's showdown with the lads from Edenderry.
'The Saints go marching in'
The lads from Claremorris will be hoping that the Saint Colman's influence will be greater than that of St Brendan - when it comes to deciding the outcome of football games on Saturday afternoon. In recent years the young footballers from the Kingdom have had a serious grasp on All Ireland titles at minor level in the inter-county game and that extended to the top level of post primary schools football, with the last three Hogan cups heading to Kerry - two to Dingle, and last year to the very school that St Colman's are looking to dump out of the competition, St Brendan's from Killarney.
It is 40-years since St Colman's claimed the Hogan Cup and this year's success in claiming the Connacht title was only their fifth provincial title at this grade. Colman's will be looking to team captain Conor Diskin to lead them from the get go, along with James Jennings, Stephen McGreal, Evan Ronane, and Paddy Barry. The Colman's management team of Vinnie Walsh and Gareth Duggan will have their side well drilled and ready to give their best on Saturday against a well fancied Kerry outfit, who have a number of players returning from their victorious team last year and a number of All Ireland minor winners from last September.
Ballinrobe look to bottle Cork boys
Ballinrobe Community School are just 60 minutes away from the All Ireland Post Primary Schools B final and they will leave it all on the field in Tulla trying to get there. There is no doubt that they have the heart and grit to get over the line on Saturday, in their Connacht final win over Presentation Athenry they had to show it all to come out on top by just two points after extra time in an enthralling encounter in Bekan. Their inside forward line was a powerhouse that evening, contributing 14 points from their total of 1-17, with Conor Henghan and Cathal Slattery kicking five points each and Tommy Conroy adding four more himself. The Ballinrobe faithful will be hoping that the trio can have a similar impact this time around. They will also be looking for big performances from team captain Nathan Moran in the middle of the park and centre forward Evan O'Brien who chipped in with two points in their Connacht final win. Their opponents had a five point win over CBS Mitchelstown in their Munster decider, with corner forward David Thompson their main man on the scoreboard kicking six of their 10 points in that victory, and the Ballinrobe defence will be on their toes to curb his influence on Saturday.