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Minors Face Uphill Challenge If They Are To Beat Derry

Monday 25.06.2012
Team Talk Mag
Club


Tyrone take on Derry in the semi final of the Ulster Minor Championship on Saturday knowing that they face an even more difficult challenge than they did when they played Armagh a few weeks ago. This very talented Derry side comes into the match on the back of a very convincing win over Donegal and are fancied by many observers to be in the shake up for Ulster and all Ireland titles.
Even before a ball was kicked in anger this year Paul Mc Iver’s Derry team was tipped as preseason favourites for the Ulster Minor Championship. Tyrone may have beaten them twice during the league but those results will count for nothing as the talk in the Oak Leaf County is about revenge and setting the record straight. It would come as a major surprise and disappointment to followers of youth football in Derry if they fail to win on Saturday. The general consensus among supporters is that this is the most highly rated group of Derry minors to have lined out for the county in the past 10 years. This particular group of players has been highly regarded throughout the provincial Development squad systems and won the Buncrana Cup (U-16) very impressively 2 years ago. Tyrone in contrast failed to qualify for the semi-finals of that competition at the time(in fact the only Tyrone team to fail to make semi-finals in the competition’s history).
This academic year Derry schools have done very well at colleges level: St Pats Maghera came within a whisker of winning the MacRory Cup, St Columb’s Derry were in the Mac Larnon Cup Final while St Colm’s High School Draperstown and St Mary’s Magherafelt also had very successful years on the pitch. The county produced two Ulster Colleges All Stars in Ryan Dougan and Terence O’Brien and also have eight of the very talented Glen Maghera team that won the Ulster Minor Club Title earlier this year.
It is widely believed that Ryan Bell from Ballinderry is the outstanding minor player in Ulster and the best underage talent Derry has produced in at least 15 years. This is Ryan’s fourth year playing county minor football and his presence in the team is sure to give Derry an edge in experience and craft.
Okay some will argue that Tyrone should be favourites for this game having already beaten Derry twice this year during a very impressive run in the minor league, firstly in the group stages in Killyclogher and then in the league final at Clones. However Derry manager Paul McIver like his senior counterpart John Brennan displayed little interest in the minor league and used it as part of their trialling process. Indeed Paul said after game in Killyclogher that with so many colleges and schools players unavailable he was forced to field a relatively weak and experimental team on that occasion. Of course the Derry boss knows Tyrone football inside out having managed Dromore for the past couple of seasons and if any man can use this to his advantage surely the astute Ballinderry man Mc Iver can. There will be a lot of speculation and debate about how this game might develop. Both sides are capable of winning it but the smart money would appear to be on the Oak Leafers making it through to a clash with Monaghan in this year’s Ulster Final.

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