Five star team performance from C&P to lift All Ireland title

Cross and Passion, Ballycastle 1-16 Mountrath CS (Laois) 1-12

Cross and Passion, Ballycastle turned in a five star team performance to lift the Masita All-Ireland Post Primary Schools’ Paddy Buggy Cup in Thurles on Saturday.

Team play and team spirit played a big part in this game, but Cross and Passion’s ability to negate the influence of the Dunphy twins during the second half went a long way to seeing that the Cup came north.

During the opening half, Stephen Dunphy had picked up a lot of ball around midfield and scored two points of his own, while Aaron at wing-forward picked off four points from play, some of those created by his brother.

Tiarnan (TT) Butler upped his game around the middle, defence closed out the whole forward threat – Mountrath failed to score from open play during the second half until the last minute – and all six forwards and midfielder CormacMcClafferty contributed scores in a fantastic team display against a team that had been destroying opponents through Leinster and in the semi-final last month.

Having come through tight matches in the Danske Bank Mageean Cup and in the All-Ireland semi-final a fortnight ago, the north Antrim boys must have surprised themselves when they led by seven points going into the last five minutes.

Their goal came in the 55th minute with Alex O’Boyle’s pass putting McClafferty in the clear and the Cushendall man hand-passed across goal for Shan McGrath to bat home from close range.

McGrath was a constant threat during the game, his speed gaining him a lot of possession, and he scored 1-3 as well as winning fouls off the Mountrath defence.

Mountrath had the better start and led 0-4 to 0-2 after 11 minutes with the Dunphy twins scoring three times.

The next ten minutes belonged to Cross & Passion and scores from Hunter, O’Boyle, McErlean and McClafferty put them two up – although that could have been a wider gap if the latter had posted scores from relatively straightforward frees.

It seemed as if Ballycastle were going to pay for those misses with the Dunphy boys taking Mountrath into a 0-8 to 0-7 lead.

But McClafferty popped over a late free and Shan McGrath picked off his opening score for the Ulster champions to lead 0-9 to 0-8 at the turnover.

The teams went level at 0-10 each and again at 0-11 before two points from Diarmuid McShane – the second a glorious score in the 47th minute – and singles from Tiarnán Butler and McGrath opened up a three point lead for Cross & Passion.

McGrath’s goal doubled the gap and he added a point from a narrow angle soon after to put his side well in control.

However there was still time for Mountrath to grab a late goal from Dylan Conroy and then a bit of a scare in the second of the indicated two extra minutes when David Connolly’s 65 was flicked to the net by full-back Kevin O’Rourke.

However the Mountrath captain was well inside the area before the sliotar and from the resultant free, referee Diarmuid Kirwan sounded the final whistle.

In the Croke Cup decider that followed, St Kieran’s, Kilkenny won their 20th title with a 1-15 to 1-12 win over Thurles CBS.

Cross & Passion: C Butler, C Blair, S McBride, PJ Graham capt., C McCaughan, OD Laverty, C Boyd, TT Butler, C McClafferty 0-5, 0-3 frees, J McErlean 0-1, S Hunter 0-2, C Patterson 0-1, S McGrath 1-3, A O’Boyle 0-1, D McShane 0-2.

Subs: G óg Laverty for Blair (ht), C Connor for McCaughan (53), C Dallas for Patterson (62).

Mountrath: S Cuddy, S Moore, K O’Rourke capt. E Peters, B Quinlan, C Phelan, J Cranny, S

Dunphy 0-2, P Williams, A Dunphy 0-4, D Lalor, D Conroy 1-4, 0-4 frees, C Hiney 0-1, J Lennon 0-1, M Dowling.

Subs:D Connolly for Quinlan (36), S Phelan for Lalor (45), O Bennett for Dowling (58).

This cup final victory for Cross and Passion caps a fantastic season for the hurlers.

In October they won the Mageean Cup at Casement Park in what was another tremendous sporting occasion for the school when they retained the cup, a great feat, in itself by beating St. Marty’s, Belfast 3-12 to 0-10

Then, just a week before the Masita All-Ireland Post Primary Schools’ Paddy Buggy Cup, Ciaran Butler and Tiarnan Butler were awarded All Stars at the Europa Hotel.

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