Canavan will take Holy Trinity College Crookstown to O’Moore Park, Portlaoise where they will play Causeway CS in the All-Ireland vocational schools “A” SFC final (3.30 pm), while the curtain-raiser will see Harte’s St Ciarans (Ballygawley) take on Tullow CS (Carlow) in the junior final (1.30 pm).
Causeway have never won this particular grade title before having been beaten in the 2001 final by Clara (Offaly). That was the year of the Foot and Mouth epidemic which curtailed activity for weeks.
When play resumed the Causeway players were involved in a host of matches with club, county minor, county vocational team and school in both hurling and football and team coach Willie Dowling points to all that activity as the reason for their failure in the final.
“The players were simply jaded”, said Willie, “and while there hasn’t been anything like the same amount of games for our players on this occasion, eight of them were involved with the county minor hurlers on Easter Monday which has curtailed our preparations.
“That said we are going into Sunday’s final confident that we can win our first All-Ireland title in the grade. “We have met Holy Trinity once before, in the 1988 semi-final which they won and went on to take the title after defeating Davitt College in a replay.
“Their coach Peter Canavan will have them well tutored. They play a typical Tyrone brand of football, pulling defenders all over the place, we’ll be adopting a man for man marking job which won’t make it easy for them to score.
“From reports I’ve had, midfield seems to be the key to this final. Holy Trinity are very strong here and our pair of Barry O’Grady and Gerard Lovett will have to be at their very best.
“A 50/50 break at midfield would do as I feel we have the forwards who can score if they get a good supply of ball. We are due a change of fortune after losing out on so many occasions in the past”.
Causeway made hard work of defeating St Brogans in the Munster final before struggling to beat Dunboyne in the All-Ireland semi-final by two points, and will have to step up a couple of gears to win tomorrow.
They have the players in Michael Quilter, Giles O’Grady, Ray Galvin and Jersey Houlihan to bring the cup home for the first time, but it will take a super human effort from all involved if they are to deny the Crookstown school.
Canavan is keeping his fingers crossed that Donal O’Hagan will be available for Sunday’s decider. He is due to appear before a disciplinary committee following his sending off in a recent match and anything more than a month would see him miss out on the final.
“O’Hagan would be an incalculable loss if he is unavailable”, said Peter who is also waiting on the return of Christopher Eastwood from an exchange trip to India. He was due to return home on Friday and any delay in flights could see him miss out also.
“I’m a little concerned that we have got to the final a little too easy. Our semi-final against Belmullet was too one sided. I would have preferred a far stiffer test.
“However we are assured of one from Causeway. Any football team coming out of Kerry has to be respected. Reports indicate they have a couple of very good forwards, in particular Jersey Houlihan.
“I would be reasonably confident of winning if we have everyone hitting form. One way or another it’s going to be a great game of football”.
In the junior final, St Ciarans (Ballygawley) coached by Tyrone senior boss Micky Harte will field four of the team which won last year’s title, Niall McGinn, Aaron Monaghan, Paul Marlow and Brian McKenna, against Tullow CS (Carlow).
“We are no where as good as we were last year, but there is great credit due to this crop of lads who have battled very hard to get back to the final again.
I know nothing about our opponents but we won’t be giving up our title easily”, said Harte.