AIB Ulster Cub Championship quarter-final
Sunday-Celtic Park 2-00pm
Glen Maghera (Derry) v Erin’s Own (Antrim)
Erin’s Own Cargin travel to Celtic Park on Sunday to cross swords with Derry champions Glen Maghera in the first round of the Ulster club championship.
The Antrim champions go into this game as rank outsiders and have been quoted at 8/1 in some quarters but Ronan Devlin’s side will not be travelling to the Maiden City just to make up the numbers.
Glen are the reigning Provincial champions and they came mighty close to a national title in 2022 before losing to Leinster Champions Kilmacud Crokes in the decider after extra time.
Glen made it a hat-trick of Derry senior football titles thanks to a dominant second half display against Magherafelt in front of 5,360 fans in Celtic Park in this year’s Derry final. Malachy O’Rourke’s side never looked back with a Cathal Mulholland goal two minutes into the second period, easing them away from Magherafelt to come home with plenty to spare in the end.
The Derry champions are a strong side as they proved last year when they went on to beat an excellent Kilcoo in the Ulster final and on the way to that decider they overcame the challenge of Sunday’s opponents in a semi-final where they certainly didn’t get it all their own way.
In a side littered with county panellists Ryan Dougan, Ciaran McFaul, Cathal Mulholland, Conor Glass, Emmet Bradley, Ethan Doherty and Danny Tallon are household names and bring a wealth of experience to Sunday’s encounter with the Antrim champions.
Erin’s Own will not travel as no hopers however and will take confidence from last year when they gave the Maghera men a run for their money and the underdogs tag will certainly suit them. Another meeting with the Derry champions was the aim from the outset this term and they will travel on Sunday fully focused on an upset.
A late penalty saw Glen Maghera advance to last year’s final but they were forced to battle for their win against a determined Cargin in Omagh. Indeed the Derry champions were hanging onto a two point lead with the clock ticking down when they were awarded a penalty after keeper, John McNabb was adjudged to have fouled substitute Stevie O’Hara and Danny Tallon tucked away the spot kick to put a rather flattering look on the final scoreline.
Cargin head in to Sunday’s encounter with another county title tucked under their belt. They have a strong panel with experience aplenty combined with a strong youth panel and have won this year’s reserve championship and an under-19 title to add to that senior success.
Ronan Devlin’s side started this year’s Antrim senior championship as firm favourites and defeated Rossa, St. John’s and Tir na nOg to top the table in their qualifying group. St. Mary’s Aghagallon pushed them all the way in the quarter-final but they went on to beat St. Brigid’s in the semi-final before defeating surprise finalist Dunloy in the decider.
John McNabb, Kevin O’ Boyle, Justin Crozier, James Laverty, Paul McCann and Kevin McShane are strong and experienced campaigners and will vie for a starting place in a defence which could include youngsters Sean Og O’Neill and Ronan Gribbin.
Gerard McCann Mark Kelly and John Carron are likely contenders for a mid-field berth while Tomas McCann, Jamie Gribbin, Pat Shivers, Eunan Quinn and David Johnston could feature in an attack that is likely to include Mick McCann if fully fit.
Glen were not at their best in the early stages of their domestic competitions and they were pushed all the way in their championship semi-final win over fierce rivals Slaughtneil. They led that one 0-03 to 0-02 after a less than entertaining opening half but a Danny Tallon goal, early in the second half saw them push on to win 1-05 to 0-06 in the end despite not scoring in the final quarter.
They looked much more like themselves in the final where they defeated Magherafelt with Danny Tallon again the goal scorer and he is just one of a number of talented forwards that will require close attention if Cargin are to advance.
Glen will start this one, as firm favourites but Cargin will take confidence from their win over Naomh Conaill in the opening round of Ulster last year and a strong semi-final performance against Watty Graham’s in the semi-final and it would be a foolish man who would dismiss them as also ran’s.