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Paul Mc Girr Final: Carrickmore v Lavey

Wednesday 28.11.2018
Team Talk Mag

History is set to be made this Sunday in Gardrum Park Dromore as two highly decorated clubs, Derry champions Lavey and Tyrone kingpins Carrickmore, look to secure the prestigious Cúchulainn bronze trophy on offer in the final of the Paul McGirr U16 Club Champions Tournament.

Once again this year the tournament has been a huge success cementing its place as one of Ireland’s premier youth football tournaments and Sunday’s final looks set to be an intriguing affair between two highly talented teams featuring a few of the top young players in the province.

Lavey have come through the tougher side of the draw overcoming a strong Madden team in the quarter final before edging a tight battle with Burren by the minimum margin last weekend.  The manner of the victory over Burren in a game which went right down to the wire will stand to Derry men as they head into the final.

Managed by Johnny McGurk, Seamus Scullion and Michael Drumm Lavey will be boosted by the return from suspension of centre back Jamie Duggan whose driving runs were sorely missed in their semi final win. Ryan Farrell is their go to man for man marking and having done a tremendous job on Burren’s star man Niall Toner last weekend, it is likely that Farrell will be tasked with keeping tabs on Carrickmore’s top scorer Danny Fullerton. The battle between these two will likely be a huge factor in the outcome of this match.  The athletic Enda Downey and robust Shea O’Neill provide a formidable midfield partnership while up front centre forward and playmaker James McGurk and talismanic full forward Matthew Downey will be two men the Carrickmore defence will need to nullify to stand any chance of securing the title.

Manager McGurk, an All Ireland winner himself with Derry is no stranger to the big occasion and is well aware of what it takes to win titles at this level.

”We are absolutely delighted to have fought our way to the Paul McGirr final. After having played the Armagh champions and a very strong Burren team in the semi final things don’t get any easier as Carrickmore will provide very strong opposition in the final. We are looking forward to a great final between two prestigious clubs who will both feel they have a right to lift the trophy. Let’s hope we can produce a big performance and bring the cup home to Lavey. There are some great names on that trophy and we hope to add Lavey to that list. Our lads have given us everything they could this year and it will not be for the want of trying if we aren’t successful.”   

Carrickmore are managed by Michel Gallagher, Turlough McGarrity, Conor Daly and Mark Corey and have certainly had the more comfortable journey to the final having accounted for Monaghan’s Donaghmoyne and Cavan’s Loch Gowna, but they will be only too aware that Lavey will be a huge step up in class to anything they have faced yet.

Both games they have been involved in to date have been high scoring affairs so Sunday will be the first time for the Tyrone champions to come up against a defensive team and their much vaunted forward line will have their work cut out to repeat their scoring feats in the tournament so far.

Full back Seamus Sweeney has looked very assured in his performances thus far but in Matthew Downey he will be coming up against one of the top underage talents in Ulster football.  Oisin McGurk, James Donaghy and Tiarnan McGarrity feature strongly in a disciplined Carrickmore defence whilst Conor Cuddy and Brian Conway are two hard working midfielders who will ask plenty of questions of their Lavey counterparts. Up front although Fullerton has been responsible for the bulk of their scores, Cahir Munroe and Cahir Loughran have been chipping in regularly and will both be looking to make their mark on this game.

Manager Gallagher is really looking to the occasion. “At the beginning of the year we set ourselves a set of short, medium and long term targets with the Paul McGirr Tournament at the top of a lengthy list. We knew it was going to take a colossal effort from each and every one of the players, management, club and family members to get to this stage but thankfully everyone has bought in. Having been beaten by this Lavey side in the final of the Og Sport last year in Killybegs, we knew that we’d have to overcome them at some stage in order to get our hands on the trophy. So, it comes as no shock to be facing this group of lads who fended off stiff competition in Derry and of course in their last two games in this competition. They’re a very well organised team, with talent all over the pitch and on the line and they’re going to be really tough opponents on Sunday. But we feel we’re ready. The lads have been working exceptionally hard on the training field and are looking forward to this final. We’ll be going into the game with the same freedom and confidence that we have displayed all year and we just hope the players don’t forget to enjoy this momentous occasion. Turlough, Mark, Conor and I couldn’t be any happier with how the lads have committed and developed and the result, whether we win, lose or draw, won’t change how happy we are with their individual and collective progression over the course of this campaign. The buzz and excitement around Carrickmore is building and we’re hoping that everyone in attendance will enjoy the spectacle. Lavey and ourselves have one hand each on the Paul McGirr Cup; one of us are going to win it for the first ever time and I just hope and pray that 2018 is our year!”

Both teams look set to bring a huge support with them on Sunday but the competitiveness of the fare in store looks set to bring many neutrals to Gardrum Park also for what should be a great atmosphere.  

For those unable to make it there is an extra treat in store with the game being broadcast live on the ‘Spirit of Paul McGirr’ facebook page with commentary being provided by none other than the legendary Michael O’Muircheartaigh. Live footage and the build up to the game will start at 1:30 with the throw in taking place at 2:00.

Lavey will go into the game as bookies favourites having come through the toughest side of the draw and the talent of Duggan, McGurk and the Downeys look likeliest to secure the title. However Carrickmore are renowned for their fighting spirit and the tag of underdogs will be something they relish as they seek to gain their proud club’s first ever Ulster football title at any level.  

All proceeds from the game go to the Spirit of Paul McGirr foundation for the wonderful work the foundation does for the under privileged children in Lusaka, Zambia.  



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