Paul McGirr Tournament
Ulster U16 FC Final
Lavey v Carrickmore
Sunday (2.00) - Dromore
History will be made this Sunday as two highly decorated clubs, Derry back to back champions Lavey take on Tyrone kingpins Carrickmore for the right to collect the prestigious Cúchulainn bronze trophy on offer in the final of the Paul McGirr tournament.
Once again this year the tournament has been a huge success cementing its place as one of Ireland’s premier youth football tournaments and Sunday’s final looks set to be an intriguing affair between two highly talented teams featuring a few of the top young players in the province.
Lavey came through the tougher side of the draw overcoming a strong Madden team in the quarter final before edging a tight battle with Burren by the minimum margin last weekend.
Their Burren game which went right down to the wire will stand to Lavey in Sunday's final. Managed by their 1991 All-Ireland Club winning captain Johnny McGurk, Seamus Scullion and current senior stalwart Michael Drumm, Lavey will be boosted by the return from suspension of centre back Jamie Duggan.
Duggan's driving runs were sorely missed in their semi final win. Ryan Farrell is their go to man for man marking and having done a tremendous job on Burren’s star man Niall Toner last weekend, it is likely that Farrell will be tasked with keeping tabs on Carrickmore’s top scorer Danny Fullerton,
The battle between these two will likely be a huge factor in the outcome of this match. The athletic Enda Downey and robust Shea O’Neill provide a formidable midfield partnership while up front centre forward and playmaker James McGurk and talismanic full forward Matthew Downey will be two men the Carrickmore defence will need to nullify to stand any chance of securing the title.
"We are absolutely delighted to have fought our way to the Paul McGirr final," commented Johnny McGurk. "After having played the Armagh champions and a very strong Burren team in the semi final things don’t get any easier as Carrickmore will provide very strong opposition in the final.
"We are looking forward to a great final between two prestigious clubs who will both feel they have a right to lift the trophy. Let's hope we can produce a big performance and bring the cup home to Lavey, there are some great names on that trophy and we hope to add Lavey to that list. Our lads have given us everything they could this year and it will not be for the want of trying if we aren’t successful".
Carrickmore have had the more comfortable journey to the final having accounted for Monaghan’s Donaghmoyne and Cavan’s Gowna, but they will be only too aware that Lavey will be a huge step up in class to anything they have faced yet.
Both games they have been involved in to date have been high scoring affairs so Sunday will be the first time for the Tyrone champions to come up against a defensive team and their much vaunted forward line will have their work cut out to repeat their scoring feats in the tournament so far.
Full back Seamus Sweeney has looked very assured in his performances thus far but in Matthew Downey he will be coming up against one of the top underage talent’s in Ulster football.
Oisin McGurk, James Donaghy and Tiarnan McGarrity feature strongly in a disciplined Carrickmore defence, whilst Conor Cuddy and Brian Conway are two hard working midfielders who will ask plenty of questions of their Lavey counterparts. Up front although Fullerton has been responsible for the bulk of their scores, Cahir Munroe and Cahir Loughran have been chipping in regularly and will both be looking to make their mark on this game.
"At the beginning of the year we set ourselves a set of short, medium and long term targets with the Paul McGirr Tournament at the top of a lengthy list," highlighted Carrickmore manager Michael Gallagher.
"We knew it was going to take a colossal effort from each and every one of the players, management, club and family members to get to this stage but thankfully everyone has bought in.
"Having been beaten by this Lavey side in the final of the Óg Sport last year in Killybegs, we knew that we’d have to overcome them at some stage in order to get our hands on the trophy.
"So, it comes as no shock to be facing this group of lads who fended off stiff competition in Derry and of course in their last two games in this competition. They’re a very well organised team, with talent all over the pitch and on the line and they’re going to be really tough opponents on Sunday.
"Lavey and ourselves have one hand each on the Paul McGirr Cup; one of us are going to win it for the first ever time and I just hope and pray that 2018 is our year".
Both teams look set to bring a huge support with them on Sunday but the competitiveness of the fare in store looks set to bring many neutrals to Gardrum Park also for what should be a great atmosphere.
For those unable to make it there is an extra treat in store with the game being broadcast live on the ‘Spirit of Paul McGirr’ Facebook page with commentary being provided by none other than the legendary Michael O’Muircheartaigh, live footage and the build up to the game will start at 1.30 with the throw in taking place at 2.00.
Lavey will be entering the game as bookies favourites having come through the toughest side of the draw and talent of Duggan, McGurk and the Downey’s look likeliest to secure the title, but Carrickmore are renowned for their fighting spirit and the tag of underdogs will be something they relish as they seek to gain their proud clubs first ever Ulster football title at any level.
All proceeds from the game go to the Spirit of Paul McGirr foundation for the wonderful work the foundation does for the under privileged children in Lusaka, Zambia.
Lavey: Eóin Scullion, Segdae Melaugh, Niall Rafferty, Joseph McGurk, Niall Duggan, Jamie Duggan, Ryan Farrell, Enda Downey, Shea O’Neill, Jack Scullion, James McGurk, Rory McGill, Patrick McGurk, Matthew Downey, Calum Downey, Louis Regan, Oisin Madden, Conlan O’Kane, Conor Downey, Dara McGurk, Colm Hassan, Dara Young, Adam Maher, Dara Devlin.
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