Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

O'Hagan targets glory for Coalisland youngsters

WhenTyrone reached the All Ireland football final in 1986, Damien O'Hagan was their powerful full-forward.

Today O'Hagan still wields an element of power within the Red Hand county but in a rather different context.

As manager of new county Minor football champions Coalisland, O'Hagan is hoping to see his side complement their domestic honour by capturing the Northern Bank Ulster Minor Club Tournament trophy.

To do that, though, they face a difficult route and the first major obstacle looms tomorrow when they meet Crossmaglen Rangers, the Armagh champions, at the St Paul's complex at Shaw's Road, Belfast (1.30pm).

While O'Hagan will undoubtedly spur Coalisland, Crossmaglen will derive their inspiration from manager Tim Gregory who has made a habit of producing winning under-age teams.

On Sunday, Killybegs (Donegal) play Tempo (Fermanagh) at 12.00 in the first game of a double-bill feast that will also include the Cavan Gaels v Castlewellan tie at 1.30

Killybegs are ranked as favourites as they were just pipped at the post last year in what was the best decider the competition has produced in its 25 years.

Like Crossmaglen, they return with a large percentage of last year's team and they will once again look towards the likes of Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Tully and Paul McGinley to drive them into the first semi -final on Sunday week.

Tempo have witnessed something of a renaissance in their fortunes at under-age level this year with but they may find Killybegs holding too many aces on Sunday.

Cavan Gaels, meanwhile, are no strangers to the journey to Belfast, having won the county Minor title a record eight times in the last nine years.

However they have only won the Jimmy McConville Cup once - in 1999 - and having sat out last year's competition, they will surely be coming back with their appetite sharpened.

Castlewellan enjoyed their first victory in their inaugural game in the Northern Bank sponsored event earlier this month against Dungiven.

They produced spells of very fluent and skilful football and were best served by half-forward Cathal Crilly and full-forward Colm Flannagan. If they can repeat this performance they will surely be favourites to progress to the 'semi' on St Stephen's Day.

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