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Feast Of Weekend Action In Store In Paul McGirr Tournament

Saturday 11.11.2017
Team Talk Mag


Gaelic games fans are in for a real treat this weekend in Gardrum Park, Dromore with six teams competing to join Kilcoo in the semi-final of the Paul McGirr U16 Club Champions Tournament.


The first game of the weekend will see Ghaoth Daobhair who secured the Donegal title on Sunday afternoon with an impressive win over hot favourites and reigning Ulster champions St. Eunan’s Letterkenny take on Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly at 12:00. Just fresh from their championship win the boys the An Gaetlacht will be entering the game as favourites but Anthony Greene’s Derrygonnelly will be able to call on the experience of playing in the tournament last year and are certainly not a team to be underestimated in what had been a great year so far for their club.


Having taken two replays to get past Kinawley in the semi final, they easily accounted for Teemore in the Fermanagh final amassing an impressive 1-18 in the process. Michael Glynn who is also a highly talented soccer player is the star man for the Harps boys, ably backed up by Cian Corrigan and the McGovern clan of Rian, Ronan, Gareth and Conor. The Derrygonnelly defence will however have their hands full coming up against a talented Ghaoth Dobhair forward line spearheaded by centre half forward Stephen McFadden and tricky corner forward Cathal Gillespie. However it is at the other end of the field were Donagh O’Dwyer’s boys are strongest, illustrated perfectly in Sunday’s Donegal final when they held reigning champions St. Eunan’s scoreless for the first thirty minutes. Liam McFadden is a very effective sweeper and full back Aidan Walsh has been in impeccable form all season and his battle with Glynn will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this game.


The second game on Saturday at 2:15 features Tyrone champions Carrickmore who last featured in the competition three years ago against Cavan’s Lough Oughter Gaels. Carrickmore managed by Ryan Daly and Noel Hurson overcame a tough Killyclogher challenge on Monday evening to secure the Tyrone title but it has come at a cost with star defender Lorcan McBride suffering an ankle injury leaving his participation in doubt. The towering Paddy McCallan and hardworking Brian Conway form a formidable midfield partnership and they have a prolific forward line led by captain Stephen Grogan and Daniel Fullerton. Carmen’s main strength is their work ethic and they will be entering the quarter final full of confidence, however there is no doubt Lough Oughter Gaels will have their plans in place having been in attendance at the Tyrone final.


In their first year in existence Lough Oughter Gaels are an amalgamation of Butlersbridge and Cornafean and it was a tremendous achievement for Killian O’Reilly’s boys to annex the Cavan title at the first time of asking, overcoming a stiff Drumlane challenge in the final. Paddy McPhillips and Daniel Brady provide a strong platform for a high scoring forward line with joint captain Jack Trainor and wing forward Dean Kilkenny being the focal points. The lack of recent action for the Cavan champions having been out of action for eight weeks should tip the scales in favour of Carrickmore who will be more than familiar with the surrounds of Gardrum Park.


The final quarter final takes place on Sunday at 2:00 and it promises to be a mouth-watering clash between Crossmaglen Rangers and Antrim champions St. Brigids who will be hoping to go a step further than their semi final appearance last year. Crossmaglen of course have the advantage of already having come through the preliminary round last weekend, an impressive performance against a very strong Lavey team. Tim Gregory and Gene O’Callaghan will be well aware that their boys’ performance will need to improve further though if they are to progress to the semi-finals. The hard-working twin brothers Patsy and Liam Finnegan will have to be at their best again if they are to provide enough ammunition for top scorer Dara O’Callaghan and his forward colleagues. Cross though are well able to mix up their game and the immense presence of full forward Shane Morgan provides them with the option of playing direct football when necessary.


St. Brigids manager Joe Brolly along with Gareth Bradley will no doubt be relishing the chance to pit their wits against the legendary Armagh club and there is little doubt they will have their homework done on their opponents having been able to witness them up close in the preliminary round clash. The outstanding Calum Webb was one of the stars of last years tournament but has now reverted to a defensive role at centre half back, Calum is ably backed up by Paul Bradley, Eoin Brown and Marcus Lynch there is no doubt that the Crossmaglen defence will be in for a serious test of their credentials. Both teams play an open attacking game, a point alluded to by a St. Brigids spokesman who was relishing the clash.


“St Brigids GAC Belfast are of course delighted to again to be part of the Paul McGirr Tournament. It is the first real opportunity that our young footballers have to play competitively against the established powerhouses of Ulster GAA. There are no easy fixtures at this end of the season but Sunday’s game against Crossmaglen Rangers will be one for the purest. The blanket defence considered an anathema by both clubs. This game has the potential to be an exhibition of open attacking football played in the spirit of this prestigious U16 Tournament”.


This is a game that should go right down to the wire and perhaps the experience of last weekend’s game may shade the verdict in favour of Crossmaglen, though it would take a brave man to put his money on either side.



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