Rusty Killeavy out to slay holders
Published 01/01/2013 | 06:59
The final of the St Paul's Ulster Minor football tournament takes place tomorrow (throw-in 1.30pm), with Armagh's Killeavy facing a huge task in facing current holders Watty Graham's, Glen.
Despite missing the highly-promising Emmet Bradley from last year's winning team, the Maghera club still have the vast majority of players from last year underage. They have been exceptional in making their way to today's final.
Indeed, their biggest test this season may have come in the Derry final, when they struggled to put neighbours Slaughtneil away by the slenderest of margins.
They were never truly able to get away in a final that developed into a typically nervous derby battle.
Freed from the shackles of their own county, they have come through a difficult path during their matches at the Shaw's Road complex. In the preliminary round they defeated a fancied St John's side, and in the quarter-final they managed to find a way past the defensive screen of Down's Warrenpoint to finish comfortable winners in the end.
The semi-final had them up against another hotly-fancied outfit in Ardboe, but they simply blew them away throughout the game.
Key to the Glen's success in recent years has been the continuity of having two-time All-Star and All-Ireland winner from 1993, Enda Gormley, as manager.
The talent within the team has been recognised further afield, with Conor Carville, Stephen O'Hara and Ryan Dougan all winning college All-Stars over the past two years.
Killeavy enter the final without having played a game in the series. They had already received a bye to the semi-final to face Castleblayney, but the Monaghan club withdrew after their melee against St Patrick's, Donagh.
It means that manager John King has not seen his charges in competitive action since mid-October.
Today could well be a bridge too far for them.