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All eyes on rising star Matt Fitzpatrick

By John Campbell

Published 19/02/2016

In the spotlight: Matt Fitzpatrick has impressed for St John’s
In the spotlight: Matt Fitzpatrick has impressed for St John’s

Antrim joint-managers Frank Fitzsimmons and Gearoid Adams will take in Sunday's Bank of Ireland Ulster Club U21 football final between St John's and Watty Grahams at the Kickhams Creggan complex (2.15pm).

And they will do so in the hope that Matt Fitzpatrick in particular will continue to show the scintillating form that has catapulted him into the limelight since the start of this year.

In the semi-final against St Patrick's, Cullyhanna, St John's appeared to be on the floor when they trailed by five points in the closing minutes of the match.

But Fitzpatrick sparked what tournament co-ordinator Colm McLarnon described as "a miraculous recovery" when he landed a goal and then had a hand in a second scored by Daragh McCallion that saw them plunder an improbable victory.

Fitzpatrick's exploits against St Patrick's followed on the heels of the crucial goal he scored for Antrim in their second victory in Division Four of the Allianz League to boost their promotion hopes and send the side into their next two games against Leitrim and London in good heart.

McLarnon said: "Some of the matches we have had in this Under-21 tournament have exceeded our expectations in terms of quality. There is absolutely no doubt that the St John's recovery was the best feat to date and obviously this will give them confidence going into Sunday's final."

But in Watty Grahams, St John's will be meeting a team for whom winning tournaments has become a way of life.

The Maghera side simply transferred their dominance of the Ulster Minor club tournament, hosted by the St Paul's club in Belfast, to the Ulster U21 event in which they have now reached the final.

Their form to date in the competition has seen them gain the favourites role, particularly as players such as Conor Glass, Danny Tallon, Jack Doherty and Cathal Mulholland are in such fine form.

In beating Monaghan side Magheracloone by 5-10 to 1-5 in the semi-final, Enda Gormley's side emphasised their enormous depth of talent.

Derry senior player Ciaran McFaul scored 1-1, Paul Gunning went one better with 1-2 while Conor Convery landed 0-3.

McLarnon added: "There is no doubt that Watty Grahams are the benchmark by which other sides must judge themselves but when you look at the way St John's have progressed both at county and club level, you feel that they will provide them with a real test."

Belfast Telegraph

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