Antrim under 20s have it all to do

Ulster U20 football championship

Antrim v Derry (2-00pm-Saturday-Dunsilly)

The Ulster under 20 championship has appeared out of nowhere and as the competition has been restructured Antrim will play last year’s finalist Derry on Saturday in Dunsilly at 2.00pm.

Derry had a fine victory last week against a highly rated Fermanagh team and despite the game going to extra time they always looked in control.

Antrim go into this championship game on the back of development league defeats to Tyrone and Louth but they did record a victory over Down.

The Saffrons can call on some experienced players from last year’s campaign including the Cargin midfielder Pat Shivers, Aaron McNeilly and Dominic McEnhill.

However the four Aghagallon lads in the squad will be no strangers to the Derry manager Micky Donnelly. The Tyrone native is one of the most highly rated managers in Ulster and he coached the St Ronan’s team to Hogan Cup All –Ireland glory in 2018. His team that day included Luke Mulholland, Mark McAfee, Jamie la Mont and Adam Loughran so no doubt Donnelly will have a great insight into the Antrim team. Micky would also be delighted at how his full back line of James Diamond, Tiernan Walsh and Odhran McLarnon played  last week in difficult conditions against Fermanagh in the preliminary round and he will be hoping for more of the same from his defenders on Saturday.

At mid-field the Derry team can call on their captain and Queens fresher Keelan Friel and another future Derry senior in Conleith McShane. Up front Derry have an array of talented forwards including county senior Alex Doherty, Cormac Murphy, Jude McAtamney and Tiernan McHugh.

The Saffrons have no shortage of ability either, according to their Fermanagh born coach Niall Jackman. He is delighted with the attitude and commitment from the Antrim youngsters. He has seen many of them play university football this year as Niall also looks after the Queens Fresher’s where he has Peter King from St Brigid’s and Eoghan Hynes from Glenravel on his team.

Derry will start this game as favourites by virtue of that win over Fermanagh and their results in the development league but Antrim performed well in that competition despite losing to Tyrone and Louth. They were impressive in their win over Down and were unlucky to lose to Louth.

Antrim came from 0-8 to 0-2 down at half time in that game to lead by two going into the final ten minutes but lost a player to a red card and another to a black with Louth taking advantage to score the final four points of the game and win by two.

Significantly both the Down and Louth games were at Dunsilly and Saturday’s game has been switched to the Antrim town venue after originally being scheduled for Glenavy and if Antrim supporters come out in good numbers to support their side then Hugh McGettigan’s Saffrons are capable of causing an upset.

Antrim Under 20 squad

Ronan Gribbin &

 Pat Shivers (Cargin)

Cormac McGettigan &

Eoghan McMenamin

Dominic McEnhill

Conal McDonald (Rossa )

Adam Loughran

Luke Mulholland

Jamie la Mont

Mark McAfee (Aghagallon)

Dominic McAteer

Eunan McAteer (Creggan)

Conor Stewart

Matthew Downey

James McDonald (All-Saints)

Aaron McNeilly

Ciaran O’Neill (Tir-na-nOg)

Seaan Elliott (Dunloy)

Conal Finnegan

Niall Ward (St Paul’s)

Peter Henvey

 Rory Brolly

John Morgan

Peter King (St Brigid’s)

Gary Murray

Eamon Kelly (Moneyglass)

Oisin Doherty (Portglenone)

Eoghan  Hynes

Sean McKay (Glenravel)

Michael Ferris (Sarsfields)

Conal Murray (St Galls)

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