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Preview Of Paul McGirr Semi Finals

Saturday 18.11.2017
Team Talk Mag
Club


 

A large crowd is expected in Gardrum Park, Dromore this Saturday for the highly anticipated semi finals of the 2017 Paul McGirr U16 Club Champions Tournament, with two cracking games in store featuring some of the most talented young footballers in Ulster there is no doubt all supporters present will be treated to a feast of high quality football. First up on Saturday at 12:00 Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly will be hoping continue what has been a fairy tale season for the club so far when they face the might of a Crossmaglen team who are looking to emulate the team that won the coveted Paul McGirr trophy in 2013. Anthony Greene’s Derrygonnelly will come in to the game buoyed up by the resounding double scores victory over a highly fancied Ghaoth Dobhair last weekend, a Ghaoth Dobhair team who defeated reigning Paul McGirr champions St. Eunan’s Letterkenny in the Donegal final. It was a tremendous victory for the Fermanagh boys who became the first Fermanagh team to progress to the semi finals in the history of the competition. Manager Greene was delighted with the performance of his boys ‘the win over Ghaoth Dobhair may have been a surprise to many but I knew our boys were well capable with competing with the best and so it proved. It was a very defensive game and to hold our opponents to just four scores, only two from play pays justice to how hard the boys worked, not just in defence but all over the pitch, Crossmaglen will provide a completely different proposition for us as they are a much more attacking team and are strong in all areas, I am confident though that if we get a repeat the workrate and passion shown in the quarter final that we will be in with a great chance’. The Derrygonnelly game is based on a very strong defensive structure with Dara Burke playing the sweeper role to a tee, they have a very strong and mobile midfield partnership of Gareth and Rian McGovern. Their hopes of progressing to the final though could receive a great boost if star forward Michael Glynn can recover from injury to take his place in the starting line up, Glynn missed the quarter final due to soccer trials in England where he picked up a hip injury, but his fitness would give his team a completely different attacking dimension and would ask questions of a Crossmaglen defence who have only conceded seven scores in each of the two games they have played to date.

 

Crossmaglen are managed by Gene O’Callaghan and Tim Gregory and have had by some distance the most arduous journey to the semi finals of all surviving teams. Drawn in the preliminary round where the played Derry champions Lavey, Cross overcome a slow start to emerge with a 2-11 to 1-06 victory, many questions were asked of them by Lavey but as the game progressed their power and strength through the pitch told as they wore their opponents down in a feisty affair. In the quarter final last weekend, their game against Antrim’s St. Brigids was the game of the tournament so far, a game full of quality scores and great commitment from both sides. Once again they got off to a slow start and went in behind at half time before emerging a completely different force in the second half, a series of defensive switches having a great effect restricting their opponents to just one second half score. Their ability to make positional changes and the strength of their bench makes them a formidable opponent for any team and there are by far the most physically developed team in the tournament. The Duffy brothers Thomas and Ryan are steadying influences in defence and twins Patsy and Liam Finnegan both get through a tremendous amount of work around the middle third and are well capable of racking up scores. Up front half forwards Dara O’Callaghan and Oisin Duffy are their main scoring sources but it is imposing full forward Shane Morgan who could cause Derrygonnelly the biggest problems. Morgan is a great target man at the edge of the square in the traditional mould but he showed his flexibility in the quarter final against St. Brigids playing a much deeper role winning primary possession from kick outs. While this is a hard game to call, the tougher games that Crossmaglen came through may just give them the winning edge.

 

The second semi final between Tyrone champions Carrickmore and Down’s Kilcoo at 2:30 promises to be a game for the ages. Having amassed 4-18 and 8-10 between them in their respective quarter finals, some of the best young attacking talent in the province will be on display in a game which seems sure to keep the scoreboard ticking over regularly. Kilcoo put in perhaps the performance of the tournament so far overcoming Monaghan champions Castleblayney by a twenty six point margin, full forward Justin Clarke being star of the show with a 4-03 tally to his name. They are by no means a one man forward line though with James McKee and playmaker Shealan Johnston also excellent talents, curbing the influence of Johnston will be key for the hopes of Carrickmore. Managed by former Down star Conor Laverty Kilcoo are an extremely well organised team who are very well disciplined in the tackle with their defence conceding only six scores against Castleblayney, Laverty though is well aware they will face a much tougher task this weekend ‘I was very pleased with our performance against Castlebayney but we face a serious step up this weekend, I watched Carrickmore in their victory over Lough Oughter Gaels on Saturday and they will provide a proposition that our boys have yet to face, they have an extremely talented full forward line, a huge presence in young McCallan in midfield and they defend with typical Tyrone ferocity, it is a game we are really looking forward to, hopefully our boys can rise the challenge’.

 

Carrickmore have had a very tough few weeks having secured the Tyrone title only six days before they played the Cavan champions on Saturday, they also have the Tyrone league final on Wednesday before facing Kilcoo. The tough run of games seems to have down the more good than harm though as they seem to be improving with each game and are gelling well as a unit. They have however suffered the loss through injury of star defender Lorcan McBride who would likely have been detailed with the task of curbing full forward Clarke. It will put an added onus on defenders Seamus Sweeney, Conor Cuddy and Rory Donnelly but the Carrickmore defence as a unit have been in fine form this season although managers Ryan Daly and Noel Hurson will have been concerned by the manner of the concession of two sloppy goals against Lough Oughter Gaels. Midfielder Paddy McCallan will prove a handful for the Kilcoo team with his driving runs through the middle creating many chances for his colleagues. It is the full forward line though where Carrickmore’s greatest strength lies, Ciaran Maguire and play maker Danny Fullerton are very accomplished attackers and corner forward and team captain Stephen Grogan is a real star in the making. Grogan scored 2-08 in the quarter final and will be a player that Kilcoo will really have to look out for. This promises to be an outstanding contest of open football and the real winners will be the supporters that will be there to witness it, it should go right down to the wire and with both teams synonymous with having a large support the atmosphere should be electric. All proceeds from the games go to the ‘Spirit of Paul McGirr Trust’ which does some great work for disabled and under privileged children in Lusaka, Zambia.

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