Ulster Minor Club Championship
FonaCAB Ulster Club Minor Football Tournament
Quarter Final @ Coláiste Feirste
Derrygonnelly Harps v Crossmaglen Rangers
Sunday December 2nd @ 4pm
Derrygonnelly Harps travel to Belfast this coming Sunday to take on Armagh kingpins Crossmaglen Rangers in a mouth-watering clash to start the Quarter Finals in the well renowned St Pauls Ulster Club Minor tournament.
The Harps club will be looking to keep a winning run going for Fermanagh after seeing Enniskillen Gaels lift the title on New Years Day in 2018 by defeating Ballinascreen, 1-6 to 0-6.
While Crossmaglen come into the game having a strong monopoly of Armagh titles under their belt with successes in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
Both sides will know each other very well with the Under-16’s last season facing off in the Paul McGirr Ulster Club Under-16 Championship at Dromore at the Semi Final stage, in that game Crossmaglen would win 1-8 to 0-6 in a competitive tussle that just seen a Crossmaglen side finish the stronger with very little between the sides throughout the 60 minutes.
Derrygonnelly Harps will enter the game in optimistic mood, at the Semi Final stage they easily dismantled Irvinestown, 6-16 to 3-6, while in the Final played back on June 9th, they came out the right side of a rollercoaster of a game against Enniskillen Gaels, 1-15 to 2-10.
That Final itself will live long in the memory for Derrygonnelly folk with the game going into three additional minutes Enniskillen held a slender one point advantage, a long probing ball in from midfielder Jack Love seen Rian McGovern win it high in the air, his pass to Darragh Burke then seen the ball supplied back to Rian McGovern who buried his shot to the back of the net giving Fergal Quinn no chance and in doing so giving Derrygonnelly a first County title since 2013 and in doing so stopped an Enniskillen four-in-a-row.
For Crossmaglen the path to Armagh glory seen them defeat Clan na Gael in the Quarter Final, 6-20 to 0-13, while the Semi Final seen Crossmaglen come out 2-13 to 0-7 victors over Clann Eireann before Armagh Harps were defeated back on October 6th in the Minor County Final. The South Armagh side were ahead at the break, 0-8 to 0-5, while the second half seen the likes of Tony O’Callaghan and Cian McConville score some fabulous points in a 0-14 to 0-9 victory that ensured Crossmaglen made it four Armagh Minor titles in the last five seasons.
The Crossmaglen team have a super shot stopper in goals with Stephen Morgan between the sticks. Morgan is a big man for his age and had a wonderful Armagh County Final with three outstanding saves to deny Armagh Harps a goal and his kick outs are worthy of a special mention aswell.
The defence is backboned by the likes of Ryan Duffy at full back and the impressive Tony O’Callaghan at number 6. Both are dependable footballers and will look to off load the ball to the likes of wing half backs such as Thomas Cassidy and Miceal Murray.
At midfield Crossmaglen are blessed with Shane Morgan and Eoghan McMahon, two hugely dependable footballers who are good on the ball and great fielders.
In attack Crossmaglen are their deadliest when club captain Cian McConville is on the ball. The full forward scored 0-9 in the recent Minor County Final victory and has played plenty of minutes for the Senior footballers aswell this season. A bit like his father, Jim McConville, son Cian is elusive, small in stature, gifted and can take a score. Other forwards of note would be the likes of diminutive James Teelan who is also an Ulster Champion at Cross-Country running and a talented wing half forward, Dara O’Callaghan and twins Liam Og and Patsy Finnegan are prominent and industrious workers in the team.
In all fairness Crossmaglen probably got it tougher than expected in the Armagh County Final and will look back to the important saves from Stephen Morgan as major game changers.
The same Crossmaglen team can add a few further faces to the squad this weekend that played in last years Under-16 Paul McGirr Semi Final, although they did lose the Final to Kilcoo it is still quite clear this is a superior Crossmaglen side.
Derrygonnelly may be coming back to this competition for the first time since 2013 but the last result up in Belfast was something of a mauling. Ramor United of Cavan would blitz a Derrygonnelly side, 2-23 to 0-3, in all honesty Derrygonnelly were making a first step into the Ulster arena at a youth age for quite some time and if anything it was an eye opener for the Harps that day to see what else is around at Ulster level.
The Derrygonnelly side will come into the game having most of the squad featuring either at MacRory Cup level for St Michaels or for Derrygonnelly U-21 side.
Goalkeeper Lee Skuce is a safe pair of hands and much is expected of the 6 footer in future years around the club.
Defenders such as Aaron Jones, Gareth McGovern and Ronan McHugh are top class performers and have rarely put a foot wrong this season, McGovern may be handed the task of picking up McConville, but it is a job that McGovern can go into confidently.
Midfield duo of Oisin Smyth and Jack Love are two tall and elegant footballers, they have pace to burn and can get forward aswell as knowing how to defend, the Fermanagh champions will need a big game from these duo on Sunday.
Up front Derrygonnelly can be at their best and Micheal Glynn is a player of rich substance, 4-4 in this years Under-17 Division 1 league final, the main stay of the St Michaels Enniskillen MacRory team attack and helping Northern Ireland Under-17’s qualify for the Elite Qualifying stages with performances against Slovakia and San Marino shows Glynn is multi-talented.
Apart from Glynn however, Derrygonnelly have the likes of brothers Gavin and Rian McGovern who together hit 1-9 in the County Final, while the likes of Cian Corrigan, Darragh Burke and Conor Burns are players who run and run which will be a defender’s nightmare to mark.
Overall it looks on paper to be a close run game, both sides are strong around the middle and have attackers of real quality that can be the difference. Derrygonnelly can travel rightfully confident of gaining a victory and giving another huge boost to the club and overall Fermanagh club football in general.