Belfast Telegraph

Johnny leads from front

Derry ace can skip to U21 triumph

CAPTAINCY comes easy to Johnny McBride. After all, the Derry player is

accustomed to filling the role of skipper.

accustomed to filling the role of skipper.

Yet McBride is scarcely twenty, even though it seems like he has been on the scene for many years.

Two years ago he led Derry against Westmeath in the All Ireland Minor football final and recently he skippered the University of Ulster Coleraine side in the Sigerson Cup competition.

Now McBride is entrusted with another task of leadership although this will be his most demanding mission yet.

The fair-haired, sturdily built midfielder will be at the helm of operations when Derry face Meath in Sunday's All Ireland U21 football final at Clones.

It's a match that Derry are particularly keen to win especially as they have been in impressive form in the competition to date.

But their stirring exploits in Ulster and that All Ireland semi-final victory over Mayo will count for nothing unless success is achieved on Sunday.

Several players who came through the Minor ranks with skipper McBride _ Enda Muldoon, David O'Neill, Joseph Cassidy, Sean Martin Lockhart and Adrian McGuckin (Jn) among them _ will soldier at his side on Sunday as Derry attempt to jettison Meath's plan to land the U21 trophy as 'back-up' to their All Ireland senior title.

Darren Fay, Mark O'Reilly and Paddy Reynolds are Meath seniors who will be in action against the Oak Leaf side with Ned Kearney another influential figure in the Leinster champions' line- up.

O'Reilly and Kearney are reportedly carrying injuries but in the best Meath tradition I think we can expect tosee them out there in the thick of the action.

Meath's abrasive style and fierce determination could have an unsettling effect on Derry but the Oak Leaf side plan to meet the challenge head-on.

It's a match that has aroused considerable interest not just within the two counties that are involved but throughout large tracts of Ulster and Leinster.

It's a safe bet that those who live within striking distance of Clones will form a huge chunk of neutral support at the match _ and there can be no greater testimony to the game's undoubted appeal than that.

Belfast Telegraph

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