All Saints face St. Davog’s in Ulster final

Ulster Intermediate football club final

All Saints (Antrim) v St. Davog’s Aghyaran (Tyrone)

This weekend’s Ulster Intermediate football club final looks like a difficult one to call. The competition itself has been affected by the early start to club leagues and unplayable pitches and quite a number of fixtures were not fulfilled.

Initially the majority of clubs enter the Ulster competition as an opportunity to prepare for their respective county leagues and under the new manager, Liam ‘Baker’ Bradley All Saints decided to enter this year’s Intermediate league.

They were awarded three home fixtures but got off to a bad start when they lost to Wolfe Tones of Armagh by 3-5 to 2-3.

As training got under way in earnest performance and results improved and they beat Desertmartin from Derry by 0-12 to 1-8 in their second game and a 0-8 to 0-6 win over Tir na nOg of Armagh left them in a good position going into their final game against Buncrana of Donegal.

With home advantage again All Saints pulled out all the stops to defeat the Donegal men 1-8 to 1-7 with Connell Lemon the star man on the day scoring 1-2 to send the Ballymena side into the unchartered territory of an Ulster final.

Their opponents in this weekend’s final are St. Davog’s Aghyaran, the most Westerly club in Tyrone and the Aghyaran side are likely to provide the Antrim side with a very stiff challenge and will start this decider as favourites.

In last year’s Intermediate grade in Tyrone St. Davog’s collected 25 points from a possible 30 league points despite being without county star, Ronan McNamee for 7 of their 15 league games but were beaten in the first round of the championship.

Their Ulster campaign, like many others was disrupted by postponements and they only got to play one of their three group games but they travelled to Belcoo O’Rahilly’s and recorded a good 0-12 to 0-8 win over the Fermanagh side.

This win was enough to qualify them for the semi-final where they faced a strong Corduff from Monaghan in Aghyaran and in an excellent game of football the Tyrone side emerged 2-7 to 0-12 winners.

All Saints had a good 2021 season but finished second in their division 2 league campaign and lost in the Intermediate final with Tir na nOg of Randalstown edging them out in both competitions and their manager Sean O’Brien stepped down to be replaced by Liam Bradley.

The former Antrim manager has had his start to the season hamstrung by a number of significant absentees and has used the Ulster league to research the depth of his panel.

They have made a bad start to their Antrim division 2 league campaign, losing away to Moneyglass and at home to St. James’ Aldergrove but have turned in descent performances in both games.

They have started their league campaign without the services of county players, Paddy McAleer and Conor Stewart while Peter McReynolds, Ciaran McGarry, Michael McCarry and Kavan Keenan have yet to figure this season and it is unlikely that any of them will play against Aghyaran.

Former county player Sean McVeigh, James McDonnell, Emmet Killough, Connell Lemon, Joe Rafferty, Shea O’Brien, Eoin Campbell and Rhys O’Mullan have figured regularly with youngsters like Shaun O’Callaghan, Cal O’Brien and Oisin Connolly getting a lot of game time

Tyrone teams have a good record in this competition and St. Davog’s will be keen to lift their first trophy of the season in preparation for their forthcoming league campaign.

Michael Anderson is the man in charge at St. Davog’s. Michael is an Aghyaran man through and through and is in his second year in charge of the Tyrone side and has represented the club at all levels as a player. Michael has a strong backroom team which includes, Eunan Mc Sorley, Kevin McMenamin, Bernard Moss, Ronan McHugh, Ronan McGuire and Gary Leonard. 

Their talisman, Ronan McNamee will be missing through county duty with Tyrone and they are missing a few more through injury but Niall Hilley, Tomas Dolan, Cormac McHugh, Oisin McHugh, Benny Gallen, Shay Gallagher and Roger Leonard have been in top class form for the Davog’s.

Forecasting winners in a competition like this is notoriously difficult to do as there is no history between the competing clubs. Both All Saints and St. Davog’s have performed well to date and both have been through tough semi-finals with only a point separating Aghyaran and Corduff and All Saints winning by the same margin over Buncrana.

Descent weather is forecast for this weekend so let’s hope the football served up is as good or even better than the weather. This game should attract a good crowd and the Saffron Gael will be there to cover what we hope will be a memorable final.

Update

This weekend’s Ulster Club Intermediate League Final has been confirmed 🏐 Saturday 26th March, 6.30pm Ulster Intermediate Football Club League Final Aghyaran St Davogs GAA Club (Tyrone) V All Saints GAC (Antrim) at Celtic Park, Derry

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