Tipp and Limerick unite under St. Mary’s, Newport banner:

By John Harrington

Newport in Tipperary is a border town where the rivalry with neighbouring Limerick is keenly felt.

The two counties have joined forces with good effect though under the banner of St. Mary’s, Newport who will contest Saturday’s Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Niall McInerney Cup Final.

The Tipp team is sprinkled liberally with players from Limerick club Murroe-Boher just over the border, including top-scorer Darren Collopy who starred last year for the Limerick minor hurlers.

Tipperary clubs Sean Treacys and Ballinahinch have also contributed players, but the majority of the team will hail from Newport itself.

It’s a rapidly growing town with a lot of the influx of new people coming from Limerick, and it’ll be interesting to see how Newport GAA club harnesses that in the coming years.

Certainly if St. Mary’s are a reliable weather vane, there’s every reason to believe that the town will produce more and more talented hurlers in the foreseeable future.

With every passing year St. Mary’s seem to get stronger as a hurling force, and they’ve beaten a very impressive path to Saturday’s Final.

“The town has shot up in recent years and so have our numbers in the school,” says team manager, David Minogue.

“A lot of people have moved into the parish and the clubs around us have been putting in great work at underage level and they’re competing at a high level and producing good hurlers which makes our job a lot easier because you’re getting a good standard of hurler coming into the school.

“There’s a lot of work being done in the school too. We’ve a good core of young teachers there that do an awful lot of work with a wide range of sports in the school and we’re really trying to push it in the last few years as well.”

St Mary’s looked like a serious outfit when beating champions Presentation Killina from Offaly by a margin of 24 points in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Prior to that they had a much tougher test in the Munster Final against a very highly rated Mungret team, but showed that day they have character as well as ability as they came from four points down in the final 12 minutes to win by two.

“Their work-rate, definitely their work-rate, is what’s pleased me most about this team,” says Minogue. “It’s been phenomenal.

“Anything we’ve asked them all year they’ve delivered. Whatever teams have thrown at them they’ve responded well. They have a never-say-die attitude and that’s been brilliant.”

One of the beauties of schools’ competition is that it’s a journey into the unknown most years, and all the more so then when you progress beyond your own province.

Minogue is expecting a tough test rom their opponents in Saturday’s Final, Coláiste Éinde Salthill, but is perhaps wisely focusing his energies on getting the most from his own players.

“I can’t say we know too much about them,” he says. “We haven’t done too much research on them. I know they scored a lot of goals in the semi-final so we’ll be trying to cut out their goal-scoring opportunities.

“We have a good bunch, their skill levels are very good, and their work-rate and attitude is very good too.

“We want to play our own game and style and try to work hard on the day and hopefully that will be enough because we trust the hurlers that we have in the school.”

Saturday, March 16

Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Niall McInerney Cup Final

St Mary’s, Newport v Coláiste Éinde, Salthill, Tulla, Clare, 12pm

Tickets for the match can be purchased HERE.