Jarlaths’ defence could be the key to keeping title

DEFENDING champions St Jarlath’s will start favourites to retain their All-Ireland Colleges SFC title when they play St Patrick’s (Maghera) in the final at Breffni Park tomorrow.

The Tuam school stormed through their All-Ireland semi-final, crushing a highly-rated St Mels side. Pats only had three points to spare over Coláiste na Sceilge in their semi-final, but were far superior to the Munster champions on the day.

Both teams have outstanding players Seventeen-year-old Mark Lynch is one of the most exciting players on the St Pats team.

Son of former Derry senior stalwart Mickey, Mark scored seven points and set up a goal in the semi-final against the Munster champions.

How the Jarlaths defence cope with him, Charlie Keilt and Michael McCann could hold the key to the destination of this year’s Hogan Cup.

Jarlaths’ stars include Seán Armstrong, who scored five points from play against Mels in the semi-final, while Simon McGuinness and Thomas Fitzgerald also excelled in attack.

Defensively the champions are very good with Ger Ahearne at full back, Gary Sice at centre back and Cathal Blake at left half all in peak form at the right time.

Midfield could be the deciding area and here the towering figures of James Kavanagh and Michael Finneran should shade the issue over the Pats pair Jonathan Bradley and Liam Hinphey.

Meanwhile, Causeway CS face a daunting task when they play the Peter Canavan-coached Holy Trinity College, Crookstown in the All-Ireland Vocational Schools “A” SFC final (3.30pm), at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, tomorrow.

Causeway have never won this title having been beaten in the 2001 final by Clara (Offaly). Coach Willie Dowling said: “We are going into the final full of confidence, however, their coach 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.”

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.

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.

Canavan is wary that perhaps his team has not been tested enough.

“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 .

“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 Ciaran’s (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 won’t be giving up our title easily,” said Harte.

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