Finnegan twins can point Crossmaglen Rangers into decider
When Liam Finnegan broke his leg earlier in the summer, he had resigned himself to a lengthy period of inactivity.
The Crossmaglen Rangers player, however, showed the kind of recovery powers that surprised manager Stephen Kernan in advance of the Ulster club minor football championship.
And the latter had no hesitation in pitching Finnegan into the opening game against Derrygonnelly Harps in which his man-marking ability helped to underpin the side's surge into the semi-finals where they will meet another Harps outfit tomorrow.
On this occasion it is Ballyholland who will form the opposition to Kernan's boys and the Down side will enter the fray bolstered by a fine win over Cavan representatives Oliver Plunketts.
While Liam Finnegan will help to marshal the Rangers defence tomorrow, his twin brother Patsy can prove a creative force at centre-half-forward where he has been showcasing his talents for the past couple of years.
Patsy represented Armagh at county minor level and is not only a valuable asset in attack but is also adept at tracking back.
With Cian McConville the ace in their pack, the Rangers will embark on tomorrow's mission fuelled by confidence.
"We were very encouraged by our win over Derrygonnelly but Ballyholland will have taken heart from their quarter-final victory and will be difficult to halt, I feel," says Stephen Kernan.
Ballyholland management duo Billy Campbell and Mattie Shields have been doing their homework on Crossmaglen recently and are aware of the tough challenge their team faces.
On Boxing Day the second semi-final between St Eunan's and Bellaghy will take place with both teams feeling they have a good chance of winning the title.
Bellaghy, under the baton of Damien Cassidy, looked impressive in beating a fancied Inniskeen Grattans side at the quarter-final stage when Lorcan Spier, who scored eight points, and Charlie Diamond, who landed five, were the architects of their victory.
The duo can expect to come in for close attention from the St Eunan's defence on Tuesday.
However while Bellaghy look to have formidable opposition in their attack, St Eunan's too have shown that they have prolific finishers in their side and the Bellaghy defence are likely to discover this tomorrow.
Meanwhile, as counties put an increased emphasis on the training and preparation of their under-age teams, Fermanagh have moved to make progress in this sector.
The Erne county have appointed Maurice McLaughlin as their new minor boss and he will take up the post having made a name for himself in senior club management.
The Donegal native, who represented Fermanagh in hurling, managed Erne Gaels to their first Fermanagh senior football championship final appearance in 35 years in 2016, where they came up short against Derrygonnelly Harps.
"It's an honour and privilege for me and my family to be associated with Fermanagh in this way," said McLaughlin.
"My late mother was Rose Maguire from Fermanagh and all of the boys in the family have represented Fermanagh in either football or hurling.
"It is a project that really excites me as a lot of good work has been done in Fermanagh in recent years at under-age level by Shaun Doherty, Eoin Bradley and Simon Bradley, to name but a few. I am hoping to add to that good foundation and to build on it."