Following the official launch at the Elk on the 27th December the 10th Annual Bank of Ireland-Paddy Mclarnon tournament kicks off this Saturday with what promises to be a mouth-watering double bill that is likely to whet the appetite.
St. Eunan’s Letterkenny and Clann Eireann get the action under way at 12.30 in a preliminary round clash that looks interesting. The Donegal champions will be hoping to emulate the performance of last year’s county champions, Gaoth Dobhair and bring the Paddy McLarnon Cup back to Donegal.
St Eunan’s were impressive in the Donegal final where they defeated Glenn Finn 5.11 to 1.08 and will be aiming to keep the Paddy McLarnon Cup in Donegal for another year as team captain Conor Moore looks forward to leading them to further success.
They won’t get it all their own way however against Armagh champions Clann Eireann who beat Kileavy 2.08 to 0.13 in the Armagh U21 Championship Final and Armagh have always brought strong sides to this tournament.
At 2.15 the first of the quarter-final games are down for decision when Carrickmacross Emmet’s from Monaghan face Down champions, Carryduff. This is the second year in succession that Carryduff have taken the Down title and they were quite impressive last year before going down to eventual winners, Gaoth Dobhair.
Last years’ experience should help the Mourne champions who impressed in the Down final where they beat Bryansford 3-7 to 0-3 in a one sided affair but they are likely to face a stiffer test against a Carrickmacross side who defeated Inniskeen in a much tighter county final by 3-11 to 0-14.
The following day (Sunday) Antrim champions St. Brigid’s dip their toes in the water of the Ulster U21 tournament for the first time and to date Antrim teams haven’t fared well at this level though St. John’s reached the final a few years back but were beaten by a very good Watty Graham’s side.
The Musgrave Park side will be no strangers to the Staffordstown Road however as they defeated host club Creggan here in the Antrim semi-final before going on to beat a good Dunloy side in a thrilling final at Colaiste Feirste.
The Belfast side will face Crosserlough who beat Southern Gaels 3-13 to 2-6 in a Cavan final that was played at U20 level, the only county to reschedule their club championship to this age level. Cavan have always brought strong representatives to Creggan however and St. Brigid’s will need to be at their best to advance. A win for Carryduff and St. Brigid’s would set up a mouth-watering semi-final with these sides based only a short distance apart in South Belfast. Throw in for this one is 12.30.
The weekend action concludes with the third quarter-final at 2.15 when Rossa, Magherafelt take on Enniskillen Gaels from Fermanagh. Magherafelt were comfortable winners over Faughanvale in the Derry final where they won 2-15 to 2-3 and will go into this one as favourites despite facing an Enniskillen side who were rampant in their final win over Derrygonnelly running out 4-19 to 0-5.
The fourth quarter-final will see St. Dympna’s Dromore return to the tournament for the second time to face the preliminary round winners of St. Eunan’s and Clann Eireann on a date to be announced later.