AIB Ulster Senior Club Football Final:
Loup (Derry) v St Galls (Antrim)
This Sunday sees a rematch of the 2003 Ulster Club Final where St Galls from Antrim meet Derry winners, Loup. Six years ago, it was Loup who emerged victorious under the watchful eye of current Fermanagh manager, Malachy O’Rourke, as they collected their first ever Ulster title on a scoreline of 0-11 to 1-05. This is the Loup’s first appearance back in the Ulster Club series since that memorable success, whereas their opponents have been regular visitors to the Ulster Club Championship.
St Galls have collected a remarkable eight out of the last nine Antrim championships. After being defeated in the 2003 Ulster Club Final, they re-emerged in 2005 to collect the Ulster Club title as they defeated Bellaghy at Healy Park, Omagh. In fact, they progressed to the All Ireland Club Final on St Patricks Day in 2006 where they lost out narrowly to Galway champions, Salthill/Knocknacarra on a scoreline of 0-7 to 0-6. In 2007, St Galls were back in the Ulster Final where they were defeated by the formidable Crossmaglen Rangers side.
In fact, a number of the St Galls squad have already collected an Ulster title this year, when they won the Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship at the end of October. They will again look to team captain, Colin Brady, Sean Kelly and Anto Healy to marshal the defence. They have a strong platform around the middle sector of the field where Aodhan Gallagher, Sean Burke and Kevin McGourty will be responsible for securing primary possession. Up front, Rory Gallagher has rediscovered his form while the McGourty brothers added to the likes of Terry O’Neill and Karl Stewart will be entrusted with providing the necessary scores. Victories over Cavan Gaels, Pearse Og and Clontibret have secured another Ulster Final appearance.
In contrast, Loup have had victories over Fermanagh champions, Derrygonnelly and Down winners, Kilcoo. Loup have a number of players still on board from their 2003 success such as Joe O’Kane, Fintan Devlin, Johnny McBride, Paul Young and Paul McFlynn. O’Kane has matured into a strong force at full back and he captains the side. McBride and McFlynn have been synonymous with Loup teams for many years and will see this as a massive opportunity to secure a second Ulster Club title. Newcomers such as Brian Doyle, Declan McVey, Paul McVey and Aidan McAlynn have added a new dimension and a freshness to an otherwise experienced side. It promises to be a fascinating contest as St Galls have been fancied from the outset while Loup have caused a number of upsets en route to this week’s decider. The respective managers Lenny Harbinson and John Brennan, have prepared their teams well and now it is done to the players.
AIB Ulster Intermediate Club Football Final:
Cookstown (Tyrone) v Lavey (Cavan)
In the Intermediate Final, to be played at Brewster Park, Enniskillen, Tyrone champions, Cookstown Fr Rocks take on Cavan winners, Lavey. Cookstown have already defeated Ballymartin and Monaghan Harps en route to today’s decider. Former All Ireland medal winner, Chris Lawn manages the Tyrone outfit and has ensured that no stone has been left unturned in their preparations. Lavey had a narrow victory over Kinawley in the quarter final and they also defeated the Donegal champions, Fanad Gaels in the semi final. They are managed by Terry Hyland and he showed his full value in the semi final against Fanad Gaels. Trailing by five points at half time, Lavey made a number of changes, held their opponents scoreless and emerged victorious by six winners.
Cookstown are captained by centre half back, Barry Hughes while they will also look to the likes of Ryan Pickering, Paul McGurk and Stephen Monaghan in defence. In the midfield sector, Gary Fitzpatrick, Raymond Mulgrew and Conor Mullan have been the leading lights and will need to deliver big performances today. Up front, Owen Mulligan and Martin Murray have led the way in the scoring stakes but centre half forward, Barry Mulligan has been rejuvenated under the new management and has had a tremendous year to date.
Lavey are captained by full back, Darren Smith who will have a major task in curtailing the influence of Owen Mulligan. Joseph Jordan and Aaron Smith provide a solid foundation in the half back line while up front they will look to Kevin Brady and Declan Murphy. Corner forward, Shane Tierney is their jewel in the crown and his performance in the semi final underlined his importance to the side as he weighed in with 1-4. It should be an intriguing encounter that may go right down to the wire.
AIB Ulster Junior Club Football Final:
Emyvale (Monaghan) v St Teresas (Antrim)
In the Junior decider, which will be played at Pairc Esler, Monaghan champions Emyvale take on Antrim winners, St Teresa’s. Emyvale are managed by former Monaghan great, Gerry McCarville and have reached the decider courtesy of victories over Tyrone champions, Newtownstewart and Shane O’Neills from Armagh. Team captain, John Flannery leads the side from centre half back and midfielder, Brendan McKenna has experience with the county senior team. In attack, Martin McAree, Robbie McHugh and Patrick McCarron provide a serious threat. The fact that they are the only side on show today that have yet to concede a goal in the Ulster Club series also outlines their strength in defence.
St Teresa’s are managed by Liam McGoldrick and his son, Conor, captains the team from the pivotal position of centre half back. Joe Rainey, who notched 1-1 in the semi final, and Eamon Doherty provide a solid midfield partnership. In attack, Philip Maguire, Robbie Gallagher and Paul McGoldrick will be under the watchful eye of the Emyvale defence. Half forward, Robbie Gallagher led the charge in the semi final as he notched 1-6. St Teresa’s were defeated in the County Final in 2008, and have already avenged that defeat, today they seek to go the whole way. Good luck to all teams involved in this weekend’s finals.