U21 Finals tomorrow

U21B Football Final

St. Gall’s v Lamh Dhearg

Colaiste Feirste 11-00 am

The U21 Football Championships reach their conclusion tomorrow with the finals of both the A and B competitions set for Colaiste Feirste with the action set to get under way at 11-00 am with the meeting of Lamh Dhearg and St. Gall’s in the B decider.

Both teams have shown inconsistent form on their way to tomorrow’s decider with Lamh Dhearg losing to both St. John’s and St. Enda’s in their opening two grading round games. That form improved with a win over Gort na Mona and then St. James Aldergrove in the B semi-final and they will hope to carry that form into tomorrow’s final against St. Gall’s.

Like the Hannastown side, St. Gall’s have shown mixed form in this year’s championship, losing to All Saints in Ballymena on day one of the grading rounds but a win over Aldergrove on day two and an impressive win away to Portglenone in the quarter-final showed marked improvement.

It was their win over Aghagallon in the semi-final that marks them down as slight favourites for tomorrow’s decider however but predicting results in the U21 championship has been difficult this year. A week ago I predicted Aghagallon to go all the way in the B championship but the Milltown side turned that prediction firmly on its head.

A man of the match performance by Eoghan McCabe was the catalyst for the St. Gall’s win over a strong St. Mary’s side with the St. Gall’s Senior and former county panellist scoring the final three points of the game to see his side home by three and he will undoubtedly be one that the Hannastown side will be keeping a tight eye on.

Ronan Gilligan, Caolan Chada, Thomas Bunting, Daniel O’Muirigh, Mark McKenna and Niall Burns are others who looked useful against the Lough Shore side and Paddy Murray’s side will be hoping to carry that good form into tomorrow’s final.

Lamh Dhearg had six points to spare over St. James’ Aldergrove in their semi-final and look capable of giving the Milltown Row side a real run for their money. Mark Finnegan top scored for the Hannastown side with 0-9 (0-8 frees) and Lamh Dhearg will need to be disciplined in their tackling if they are to avoid the punishment that Finnegan is capable of dishing out.

Declan Dunne, Ross Murray, goal scorer John Boyd and Aaron Ferris also caught the eye and there might not be too much between them in the end but if St. Gall’s can reproduce last week’s form they may edge it.

Under-21 A Championship (final) 12.45pm

Colaiste Feirste

Tir na nOg Randalstown v St Brigid’s (holders)

Reining under-21 A champions St Brigid’s, who defeated Dunloy in last year’s final have impressed en route to the decider again and with a good number of the successful 2018 side still available for selection they will carry the favourites tag.

The South Belfast side gave firm notice of positive intention way back in the qualifying rounds with an opening win over a more than useful Creggan side and they have not broken stride since.

In a repeat of last year’s final, they brushed aside the challenge of a descent Dunloy in last week’s semi-final in Glenravel and the margin of victory will certainly have made interested parties sit up and take notice. St. Brigid’s romped home 3-14 to 2-05 winners and will go into tomorrow’s final against Tir na nOg full of confidence.

St Brigid’s had 12 points to spare over the Cuchullain’s.  Dunloy kept in touch for a good part of the game but the Musgrave Park men scored six points in next to no time at the death to add the gloss while James Smith put in a man of the match performance throughout.  The St Brigid’s full forward finished the semi-final with a personal tally of 2-6 followed closely by John Blaney who finished with 1-3.

Peter King, John Toner, Joe Finnegan, Rory Brolly, Patrick Finnegan and Peter Henvey are others who carry a threat in a very good St. Brigid’s side but Smith looks like the player Tir na nOg will have to curtail if they are to take the title.

Tir na nOg collected the B title last term and the Whitehill side will be hoping to make it a double this term and the Randalstown lads are not to be dismissed in their quest for glory.

They have impressed on their trail to tomorrow’s decider and their win over Kickham’s Creggan in the competitions first ever penalty shoot-out was a real knife edge affair.

The Whitehill Blues came from off the pace to force a period of extra time and when the extra minutes added failed to find a winner Ricardo Conceicao became the hero of the hour, producing a spectacular penalty save to see his side through to tomorrow’s final.

Declan Mallon, Peter Cullen, Darren McCormick, Aaron McNeilly, Ciaran O’Neill, Darragh Feagan, Eamon Og McAllister, Aodhan Toland and Joe Webb were all on the Tir na nOg score sheet in last week’s win over their parish rivals.

St Brigid’s will start as firm favourites but they will need to produce of their best to get the better of this Tir na nOg side with another penalty shoot-out not to be ruled out.

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