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Mayobridge galvanised by returning trio

Down Senior Football final

By John Campbell

When Keith Quinn, Ryan Brady and Conleth O’Hare departed for the United States at the beginning of the summer, Mayobridge manager Francie Poland was forced to ponder his team’s prospects of success in the Down senior football championship.

The absence of such a talented trio inculcated a belief within the club that dislodging Burren from their proud perch as champions would prove a massive task.

But when Mayobridge safely negotiated their initial hurdles in the series, optimism was rekindled and this has since morphed into confidence now that Quinn, Brady and O’Hare have returned with North American championship medals in their back pockets and, even more importantly, sharing a rampant desire to see Mayobridge triumph.

Thus when manager Poland and his players convene tonight to put the final touches to their strategy for Sunday’s eagerly-awaited decider against Kilcoo, they will do so fuelled by ambition

Not only have Mayobridge strong designs on the Down crown but they are desperately anxious to make a real impact in the Ulster Club championship, a competition that has yielded only heartbreak for them in recent years.

It was in the wake of their clinical destruction of fancied Longstone, who had earlier beaten champions Burren, in the Down semi-final, that Mayobridge not surprisingly found themselves thrust into the favourites’ role for Sunday’s contest but manager Poland cautions that it will take “at least a repeat” of that form if they are to defuse the challenge of Kilcoo.

“Kilcoo won the title three years ago and are a very good side,” says Poland.

“They will feel they can get their hands on the title again so we have to be up for battle.

“We will need to at least repeat the form we showed against Longstone.”

Brady and Quinn have worn the Down colours at various stages in the recent past and join much more experienced Mourne duo Conor Garvey and Benny Coulter in a Mayobridge outfit with designs on their ninth title since 1999.

Mayobridge have been brought to concert pitch for this final by top fitness guru Stephen Poacher who managed the Down U21 side and was formerly in charge of An Riocht. He also trained Burren when former Derry All-Ireland winner Damien Barton was manager there.

Kilcoo manager Jim McCorry can rely on a seasoned corps spearheaded by Conor Laverty, the Branagans Aidan and Niall, Paul Greenan and Anthony Devlin to spark his team’s drive for further glory.

Sunday’s senior final at Paric Esler will be preceded by the intermediate decider between Warrenpoint and St John Bosco, Newry.

Warrenpoint will be bidding for a third title this year as they have already won the county Minor Championship crown and the Premier Reserve Championship.

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