Ulster Club Minor Championship Semi Final
Enniskillen Gaels (Fermanagh) v St Eunan’s Letterkenny (Donegal)
Sunday December 27th @ St Pauls @ 1.30pm
51 miles may seperate these two sides but on Sunday they will do battle in Belfast for a chance to contest the Ulster Minor Championship Final against the winners from the day previous, Crossmaglen or Moortown.
You have to go back to 1988 when Enniskillen Gaels won this trophy, while Donegal sides have only once got their hands on the prize with Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon being successful in 1992.
Enniskillen, under the management of former playing legends John Reihill and Brendan Dooris, advanced to the last four with a terrific second half showing in defeating St Enda’s Glengormley 3-9 to 3-7.
The Enniskillen Gaels side are a well balanced outfit and recorded the double this season in Fermanagh with Championship and Division 1 League success, but its the win against St Enda’s Glengormley that has really made people throughout Ulster take notice of the Gaels team.
Enniskillen are backboned by Conor Carney at full back who has been hugely impressive this season, while Headon Hughes-Jordan and Ciaran Smith are two expert defenders at reading the game. In midfield Enniskillen will look to Eoin Beacom and Michael Dooris, while attackers Neil McDermott, Brendan Lilley and Conall Quinn are all lively forwards. Lilley 0-4, and Quinn 2-1 really stood out against St Enda’s and if these two can once again bring their scoring boots then Enniskillen will be in with a real chance on Sunday.
St Eunan’s Letterkenny booked their place in the last four with a 0-16 to 2-7 win over Derry champions Slaughtneil, in a match which seen Letterkenny leading by 0-16 to 0-6 with just 4 minutes to go before the Derry side gave Letterkenny a real fright in the closing stages.
Letterkenny won through to the Donegal County Final with a 0-14 to 0-7 success over Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon, before they dispatched Naomh Conaill 3-6 to 0-12 in the Donegal Minor County Final with managers Eddie Brennan, Paul Carr and Ciaran McGuire boosting a hugely expansive squad that have been hugely successful in Donegal from Under-12 up.
Goalkeeper Matthew Gallagher has been hugely impressive this season with his kick outs often targeting the wing half backs. Full back Darragh McWalters and Centre half back Darragh Toal are calm on the ball and will look to stop the pacey Enniskillen attack along with Conor Moore.
Midfielder Rory Carr impressed against Slaughtneil with 0-3, while his midfield partner Oisin O’Boyle got through a mountain of work in the Quarter Final win.
In attack is St Eunan’s biggest strength with Niall O’Donnell being the stand out figure for the Donegal side. He scored 0-7 in the Donegal Semi Final, 0-8 in the Donegal County Final and 0-8 against Slaughtneil. His aerial ability and his score taking will be well noted by the Enniskillen management team and it will be good to see who the Gaels choose to go toe-to-toe with on O’Donnell.
Other key men for Letterkenny are Dylan McGrory and Jake Whelan, while club captain Odhran McGinley is an exceptional playmaker who may wear 13 but can play in any position from midfield up.
So who will win?
Letterkenny go into the game as favourites and with players like O’Donnell and Carr that is understandable. They Donegal side kicked 0-16 against Slaughtneil and will be looking to improve on a poor Donegal record in this competition which has seen St Eunan’s lose out in 2009 and 2011 to the eventual winners.
Enniskillen had not won a Fermanagh MFC title since 1998 so to make an Ulster Final this year would be a major statement. They have quality players with plenty of lightning speed in attack that all sides want.
For Fermanagh football it really would finish the season off with a huge boost after a memorable 2015 and put Enniskillen Gaels firmly back on the Ulster GAA map – all in Fermanagh GAA wish Enniskillen Gaels the best of luck.
The winners of the game advance to the Ulster final on Friday January 1st 2016.