Minor Football Championship Final Preview
O’Donovan Rossa v St. Mary’s Aghagallon
This Sunday’s Championship double header at Glenavy gets under way with the final of the Minor Football Championship between Rossa and Aghagallon and having seen both sides in semi-final action I think we are in for an entertaining game between two very skilful sides.
Rossa came through the more difficult semi-final where they defeated league winners, Kickham’s Creggan after extra time at Sunday’s venue and they showed a lot of skill and character to overcome a strong Creggan side.
Dominic McEnhill was the star of the show on that occasion, scoring six points and he was involved in nearly everything good the Shaw’s Road outfit did. McEnhill started on the edge of the square but moved further out the field late in the game with the outcome in the balance.
Rossa got on top during time added on and Dominic Mc Enhill, now at mid-field rose highest to collect before quickly transferring to the unmarked Conor ‘Spud’ O’ Neill. The Rossa sub needed no second bidding as he lashed the leather to the back of the net to send the Rossa Park side through to the final.
After receiving a bye in the opening round Rossa travelled out to Toome and came through a difficult quarter-final against Cargin. The Erin’s own side had been going well and this win installed them as serious contenders for the championship.
They are a strong outfit with Michael Burns in goals a regular on the Rossa senior team this year while Matthew McIvor and St. Teresa’s lone player, Matthew Mallon anchor a solid defence. They have an excellent mid-fielder in Eoghan McMenamin and along with the threat of McEnhill they have excellent attackers in Michael Close and Emmet Burns.
Their opponents, St. Mary’s Aghagallon won’t be too worried by Rossa’s reputation. They are a side in Sunday’s final on merit and recorded a league win over the O’Donovan’s in Aghagallon earlier in the year so they certainly won’t be going into this game with an inferiority complex.
Like Rossa they received a first round bye before accounting for neighbours, St. Joseph’s Glenavy on a scoreline of 0-15 to 0-8 in the quarter-final. They were expected to face a stiff challenge from All Saints Ballymena when the sides met in the semi-final in Portglenone but it never materialised.
Aghagallon dictated matters from early on with Fiontan Campbell to the fore, raising four white flags in the opening quarter and going on to give a fine exhibition of free taking over the hour. An 18th minute goal despatched by wing half back Sean Donnelly ensured they led 1-08 to 0-03 at the end of the opening period.
All Saints, made several changes and began to come more into contention in the second half and a 43rd minute Jack White goal looked like making a game of it and indeed when Shea O’ Brien followed with a couple of points only a score separated the sides with Aghagallon’s lead reduced to a 1-09 to 1-06 advantage.
When they did seem in trouble the St Mary’s side, pushed onwards however with the impressive Adam Loughran leading the way and he sent Daniel Hannon in to unleash a power drive to the net and from there on it was always going to be St. Mary’s who would advance.
St. Mary’s ran out convincing winners by 3-14 to 2-7 and look capable of giving the Belfast side more than their fill of it. They have an excellent keeper in Luke Mulholland and Roland Mulholland, Sean Donnelly, Aiden Mulholland and Andrew Johnston are strong defenders. Jamie Lamont and Jack Lenaghan form a strong mid-field partnership and Marc McAffee, Adam Loughran and Fintan Campbell pose a serious scoring threat.
Both sides play an attractive brand of football and this should lead to an entertaining final but despite that defeat in Aghagallon I would suggest that Rossa will start as slight favourites but there shouldn’t be too much in it at the final whistle.