Con Magees get back to Ulster action but Naomh Colum Cille will be tough opponents

Ulster Club Junior Hurling Championship

Con Magees Glenravel v Naomh Colum Cille (Tyrone)

Pairc Mac Uílin Ballycastle – Saturday 27th November @ 1-30 pm

When Glenravel hurlers take to the field in Ballycastle on Saturday in the Ulster Club Championship it will be one day short of nine weeks since their last competitive game, the Antrim final against Glenarm.

The Con Magees won their 7th Antrim Junior title on September 26th, beating hot favourites Glenarm with a performance that shocked even their most ardent supporters. In normal circumstances they would have had a couple of week’s to prepare for their Ulster campaign, a few days to wrap up the celebrations before getting back into training and probably three or four trainings sessions to get their sharpness back. However this has been no ordinary year and with Covid restriction throwing the fixtures into chaos the Con Magees hurlers were left in a position where it was like starting their season all over again.  

Of course they are not the only team in Antrim with a long wait to get back into action. Carey Faughs, who play on Sunday, have had to wait seven weeks for their next game while Dunloy, who are scheduled to face Derry and Ulster champions Slaughtneil on Sunday the 12th of December, are in the same boat as Glenravel, with a nine week lay-off.  

Con Magees manager Ciaran McKiernan is looking forward to Saturday’s game and feels his team is well prepared for it. When I ask him about the long lay-off he was full of praise for his players.

“We gave them a couple of weeks off to enjoy the celebrations after beating Glenarm in the Antrim final. After that we got back to do a bit of physical training to try and get back into some sort of physical shape. It was a bit slow at the start but the boys grew into it and after a couple of weeks they were all back at it again.”

They played a series of challenge games against Carey, St Killian’s College and Castleblaney and fared well in the games and McKernan feels they are well prepared.

Paul Greville in action against Antrim captain Conor McCann in Mullingar in 2018. On Saturday the former Westeath star will line out for jis new club Naomh Colum Cille against Con Magees in Ballycastle.

He and his assistant Archie Rea went to Omagh to see the Tyrone final and have a look at Sunday’s opponents. They are a strong side and have in their ranks former Westmeath hurler Paul Greville who earlier this year moved to Tyrone. Greville is no stranger to Antrim hurling and played against the Saffrons many times in recent years not only in Mullingar but in Dunloy, Ballycastle and Cushendall.

Dunloy native Chris Kearns captained the team who beat Omagh by 2-10 to 1-3 in the Tyrone final and with a strong midfield pairing of Andrew Byrne and Paul Maguire and Greville leading the forward line they will present a stern challenge for the Antrim champions.

Glenravel’s last venture into Ulster was back in 2014 when they beat Carryduff in the quarter final in Loughgiel before losing out narrowly in the semi-final to Monaghan champions Castleblaney in O’Neill Park in Dungannon. There are fond memories in the club of that great adventure. Half the 2014 team are still playing and they will be all out to get back to Ulster action once again.

Con Magees Stevie Acheson is lifted shoulder high by Cormac Scullion (left) and Shanlee Kerr after his last gasp point sealed the narrowest of victories over Down champions Carryduff in the 2014 Ulster Junior Hurling Championship quarter-final in Loughgiel. Rumour has it that Stevie hasn’t had to but a drink in the Glensway ever since. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

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