Donegal v Antrim
Pics by Elaine Kelly
A Wednesday night fixture in Ballybofey is hardly what Antrim manager, Seamus Hastings would have been wishing for but that’s the hand the Tir na nOg man and his Antrim minor side have been dealt and when I spoke to him this week he was philosophical about the game.
“Obviously our preparations haven’t been ideal due to COVID restrictions but we spent the winter training together on zoom. The field sessions have been very intense and we have taken on really challenging games against Down, Louth, Derry, Fermanagh and Armagh picking up some wins on the road and being competitive in every game. Donegal will provide a very stiff test and are backboned by a number of players who played u 20 already this summer. An evening fixture in Ballybofey is again a very difficult and logistically challenging fixture but we just have to get on with it”
Hastings was adamant that Antrim will not be travelling to Donegal just to make up the numbers and is excited about the panel of players the Antrim management have put together.
Goalkeeper Padraig Linton has been outstanding behind a defence which is well marshalled by Cargin duo Cahir Donnelly and Conan Johnston.
16 year old Tiernan McCormack (Moneyglass) and Callum Walsh ( St Gall’s) have attacked with speed, power and tenacity from half back, while sweeper Shay ONeill ( Glenavy ) covers every blade of grass on the pitch in his role.
Paudie Gowdy (Aghagallon) is a towering driving force from midfield while the versatile Fiontan O Boyle (Glenavy) has excelled in both attack and defence.
Up front the team will be looking to the speed and agility of Sean Byrne (Portglenone), the vision and running of Jonny Hannon (Aghagallon) to complement the passing and shooting ability of Top scorer Connor Hastings (Tir na nOg) to carry them to victory.
The Antrim manger has been assisted in his preparations by a strong backroom team which includes Danny O’Neill (Glenavy), Martin McMahon (St. John’s), Damien Robb (Tir na nOg), Barry Byrne (Portglenone) and Michael Dempsey the goalkeeping coach.
Donegal in Ballybofey will present a tough challenge for the young Saffrons but if they can re-produce the best of the form they have displayed in those recent challenge games they might not be too far away and a win over the Tir Connell men would prove to be a major boost for Antrim football.
At the time of writing the Donegal team hadn’t been selected but the following notice appeared on the official Donegal GAA website
The 24 -strong squad on the day will be picked from the following 32 players:
- Aaron Cullen, Aodh Ruadh Beal Átha Seanaigh
- Anthony Curran, Baile na nGalloglach
- Cathal McGeever, Cloich Cheann Fhaola
- Cian McMenamin, An Tearmainn
- Conor McGinty, Sean MacCumhaill
- Conor Reid, Na Ceithre Maistrí
- Cormac Gallagher, An Tearmainn
- Cormac McColgan, Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin
- Daniel Marley, Gleann Fhinne
- Damien McGowan, An Clochán Liath
- Donal Gallagher Gleann tSúilí
- Eoghan Kelly, Aodh Ruadh Beal Átha Seanaigh
- Ethan Friel, Cloich Cheann Fhaola
- Ethan McNulty, Na Ceithre Maistrí
- Gary Kelly, Gleann tSúilí
- James Doherty, Red Hughs
- Karl Magee, An Clochán Liath
- Karl Molloy, Ard an Ratha
- Kevin McCormick, Sean MacCumhail
- Kyle McNulty, Realt na Mara
- Luke McGlynn, Gleann Fhinne
- Michael Callaghan, Naomh Columba
- Oisin Caulfield, Na Rossa
- Oisin Harkin, An Tearmainn
- Oisin McIntyre, Naomh Padraig Uisce Chaoin
- Paddy McElwee, Na Dunaibh
- Patrick McDaid, An Tearmainn
- Paul Ryan, Baile na nGalloglach
- Ryan Barrett, Realt na Mara
- Sean Breen, Sean MacCumhaill
- Sean Martin, Sean MacCumhaill
- Shaun Ward, Gleann Fhinne