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Gaels are well placed to blow rivals off title course

By John Campbell

Watty Graham's, Glen have a fourth successive Ulster Minor club football title in their sights but now know for sure that achieving this notable distinction will be anything but easy.

The all-conquering Derry side will meet Cavan outfit Southern Gaels in Thursday's decider knowing that their opponents have already created a major impact in the competition.

In defeating Crossmaglen Rangers and Burren, Southern Gaels have set out their stall in impressive fashion - so much so, indeed, that manager Gabriel Keogan believes they are now capable of going all the way.

"At the outset of the tournament we were hopeful rather than expectant but that has all changed now," states Keogan.

"We will be going into this New Year's Day match against what I feel is an excellent Watty Graham's side imbued with the confidence to come out on top. You have to have this sort of self-belief but I can assure you that we will be anything but arrogant."

The Gaels' 2-8 to 1-8 victory over fancied Burren on Boxing Day was all the more commendable when it is considered that they lost midfield ace Ruadhan McDonnell to a black card after five minutes and then saw his partner Thomas Galligan stretchered off in the second half.

Certainly, the Cavan side bring abundant character and courage to the table and these assets will serve them well against Watty Graham's, who have looked comfortable to date.

They have shown uncanny accuracy for the most part and in players such as Conor Glass, Danny Tallon and Cathal Mulholland, they have potential match-winners.

Tallon in particular has been in imperious form to date and if he is plied with possession in the decider, he could make life difficult for the Southern Gaels defence.

Watty Graham's manager Feargal McCusker acknowledges that his side's track record in the competition will stand to them but is also conscious that Southern Gaels now have their tails up following their wins over Crossmaglen and Burren.

"Obviously we are very keen to land the four in a row but we know that Southern Gaels will come at us strongly. They have shown great resolve and staying power to date," says McCusker. Throw-in at St Paul's, Shaw's Road, Belfast on Thursday is 1.30pm.

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