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Clonoe aiming to build on O'Neill win

By Declan Bogue

The buzz is palpable around Creggan Kickhams this week.

After getting a reprieve from any possible sanction arising out of Ballysaggart's post-game appeals, the hurling team have been confirmed as the All-Ireland Junior club champions.

And today, they host the final of their popular Ulster Under-21 club Championship, when Truagh Gaels of Monaghan face Tyrone champions at this age grade and senior level, Clonoe O'Rahilly's.

It's been quite a year for both. Back in October, former Derry manager Damian Cassidy led Clonoe to their second O'Neill Cup in a few years and he takes the reins for this team also.

The bond between an imported manager and his players is intensely strong and Cassidy spoke about it this week, saying: "There is a fantastic mentality around the Clonoe club. The most important thing from my perspective is that you know that every time a Clonoe team steps out on the field, you know they are really going to leave it all out there on the pitch."

Around the north Monaghan border area, the flags that flew for Truagh's journey to the All-Ireland Intermediate title have been kept up as they have made their way to this final.

Their manager is Mark Counihan, a veteran of the senior team and he said this week: "Momentum is a great thing to have at your back, but what I would say is that not all of these boys were involved in that All-Ireland run. It has only added to their hunger and their desire to push the thing on. This has been their focus."

Paudie McKenna remains an injury doubt for them, having injured his hamstring prior to their semi-final win over Portglenone, but Truagh are favourites.

In ladies' football this weekend, a mouth-watering tie looms when table-topping Monaghan, fresh from a heavy win over Tyrone, meet Kerry, who are buzzing from their derby win over Cork.

Tyrone meanwhile can lift themselves out of relegation trouble if they can manage to get the better of fellow strugglers Laois.

In Division Two, Down host Fermanagh and Cavan are away to Kildare, while in Division Three Armagh are at home to Leitrim.

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