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Coleraine hoping for a family celebration

By John Campbell

Former Derry captain Barry McGoldrick can count on strong family backing when he brings his vast experience into play for Coleraine Eoghan Rua against reigning title-holders Slaughtneil in tomorrow's Derry senior football championship final at Celtic Park.

Four of his brothers - Colm, Ciaran, Sean Leo and Liam - will be in the side as will his cousin Niall Holly while his father Sean will hold the managerial reins along with Sean McLoughlin, just as they have done for several years.

For Barry, now 30 and a teacher at North Coast Integrated school in Coleraine, tomorrow's final marks a milestone in his playing career.

Ten years have elapsed since he first joined the Derry squad and it is five years since Eoghan Rua won their only county senior championship title to date.

Indeed, to be involved in tomorrow's decider is something of a bonus for the quiet-spoken Barry after a cruciate ligament injury in 2013 threatened his playing career.

But his determination, resolve and pride saw him make a full recovery and now he will be a key figure in the team's strategy.

"When we won the Derry title in 2010 we did not have the level of experience that we possess now but then it will take all of this and more if we are to get over a Slaughtneil side that reached the All-Ireland club final earlier this year and which is just brimming with quality players," points out Barry.

"I always enjoyed playing for Derry but I must say I get tremendous satisfaction from seeing my club do well. The fact we as a family can share in any success that is achieved by the team is indeed a real privilege."

There were raised eyebrows in many quarters last week-end when Coleraine overcame fancied Ballinderry in their semi-final and nowhere has Coleraine's performance been more forensically examined since then than in the Slaughtneil club.

After a faltering start to their championship campaign, Slaughtneil gained momentum and in dismantling Bellaghy by 2-16 to 1-6 last Sunday they underlined their desire to retain the county championship trophy.

Yet Slaughtneil assistant manager John Joe Kearney acknowledges that Coleraine - and the McGoldrick clan in particular - will form a strong barrier to his team's chances of making it back-to-back titles.

"When you look at what Coleraine have achieved, you have to admire them," says Kearney, "They won't be one bit fazed at having to face us. We will need to be on our toes and we certainly cannot afford to find ourselves chasing the game, that's for sure."

Lisbellaw joint manager Kevin Corrigan believes his side have the chance of recording a significant coup in the Ulster Club senior championship quarter-final when they meet Middletown tomorrow.

"We have not managed to win a game in the Ulster series since we entered it a few years ago but we would we hopeful that we can beat Middletown," says Corrigan.

While Lisbellaw boast a raft of Fermanagh county players, Middletown will look to orchard county stars Nathan Curry, Kieran McKernan, Pauric Hughes, Martin Moan, Cathal Carvill, Ryan Gaffney and Odhran Curry for inspiration.

In the Ulster Intermediate Club hurling championship, Keady will have home advantage against newly-crowned Tyrone champions Eire Og (Carrickmore). Stephen Renaghan is a key cog in the Keady side along with Conor McKee and Conor Corvan while Eire Og will look to Aidan Kelly, Brendan Begley, Sean Og Grugan, Conor Grugan and Johnny Munroe for inspiration.

Derry side Na Magha will take on Carryduff, the Down representatives, at Owenbeg while Castleblayney will host Kickhams Creggan.

In the Ulster Junior club hurling championship, the emerging Truagh side from Monaghan face a tough task against Donegal outfit MacCumhaills (Ballybofey) at Castleblayney while Down title-holders Ballela will have home advantage against Rasharkin in their quarter-final.

Ballela will lean on the skills of the McCusker brothers Jonathan and Ryan, Malachy Magee and Gary McMullan while Rasharkin will field a mixture of youth and experience in what looks to be an interesting tie between two well-matched sides.

Belfast Telegraph


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