James Kielt and Ryan Dougan in a midfield battle in a previous meeting of the teams (Pic: Mary K Burke)
DERRY SFC ROUND 4
Glen v Kilrea
Saturday (4.00) – Glenullin
Ref: Declan O'Connor
Three years ago the teams went in level at half time, 0-10 each, before Glen hit the Pearses with a storming second half to push clear in a mid-week quarter-final.
Goals from a Ciaran McFaul penalty and a rasper from Emmet Bradley had Glen ahead by 10 points before Larry Kielt responded with a consolation goal.
The clubs have had contrasting fortunes since. Glen have pushed on to reach a semi-final and last year's decider, with Kilrea dropping out of the league's top flight.
Following a turnover of players, new manager Declan Bradley has been consistent in his narrative of developing the young guns who want to play. The others are gone.
Of their minor squad beaten by Burren on New Year's Day 2017, 11 of them have played some part in the three games to date. Odhran McLarnon and PJ McAleese are younger again.
Kilrea were handed the toughest draw in the group stages, being paired with recent champions Coleraine and Slaughtneil, while Lavey were 2018 finalists.
After their chastening experience at Emmet Park, they had enough about them to beat Lavey and were leading Coleraine at home before ending up with a third straight defeat.
Paddy Quigg gave Lavey no end of problems and went through three different markers. James Kielt continues to swing points over from all angles and they are competing with seasoned championship teams. Aidan Gillen fared well with his kick-outs and at midfield Charlie Kielt and Ruaidhri Donaghy are an accomplished midfield duo.
The last time they went to Glenullin with the underdogs tag, they sunk Slaughtneil with Benny Quigg's goal on their way to the county final. Ironically, the curtain raiser that afternoon was Glen's U16 final win over Slaughtneil. Almost half of that winning Watties's team will be in Jude Donnelly's plans this week.
Glen are the toughest draw Kilrea could've got from the three cards available to them. A team on a mission. One armed with belief from last year's campaign and how they ran Slaughtneil ragged for long spells.
Their focus is the John McLaughlin Cup and translating their underage conveyor belt into something to catapult their club from.
Apart from Tiarnan Flanagan (work) and Stevie O'Hara (knee), Glen have everyone else playing or on their way back.
Both teams play with a similar system, trusting their defenders and no out and out sweepers. Players filter back naturally when there is work to be done, but it is very much a kicking game and getting a man on the second support run.
Oisin Hegarty and Oran McGill will be the markers handed the tasks of shackling Paddy Quigg and Daithi McLaughlin, both of who are dangerous on their day. From Kilrea's point of view, they both need to fire with Larry and James Kielt supplying them with early ball. Ryan Dougan, if he makes a return from a recent knock, will likely be handed the role on James Kielt.
At midfield, Glen will need Emmet Bradley and Ciaran McFaul to lead and link in new goalkeeper Connlan Bradley on the kick-outs.
Kilrea go in as underdogs and will be expected to throw the kitchen sink at Glen. Will it be enough? On paper, it's unlikely. But the championship is different. It is all on the day and if Glen are going to consider themselves as real contenders this year again, they have to learn to carry the favourites tag.
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