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Gilligan rolling back the years in double bid

By John Campbell

Former Derry forward Conleith Gilligan has played a part in bringing two teams into Senior Football Championship semi-finals in different counties - and not surprisingly is now eyeing up a trophy double.

Gilligan, a sprightly 36-year-old and father of three, is currently producing vintage form in the colours of the Ballinderry team of which he has been a member for the best part of two decades, while at the same time applying his expertise to the preparations of Maghery Shamrocks for their Armagh Championship semi-final against Crossmaglen Rangers tonight.

When Ballinderry overcame Lavey in the Derry Championship quarter-final on Monday night, Gilligan scored 1-9 in their 1-13 to 1-5 win. They will now meet Coleraine Eoghan Rua tomorrow night, just 24 hours after Maghery's major assignment.

Gilligan's accuracy from play and frees was such that Lavey were decimated in the closing stages.

Not surprisingly, Gilligan has his sights fixed on a championship double coup.

The Maghery outfit, powered by the Forker brothers Aidan and Stefan as well as skipper James Lavery, overcame Granemore in their quarter-final and must now face the challenge of a Rangers side that beat Pearse Og (0-16 to 2-6).

Maghery's fitness and stamina have been standing them in good stead and this is due in no small measure to Gilligan's input.

"Conleith has brought a real enthusiasm to training that is proving infectious," maintained Maghery joint-boss Joe Hendron.

They will face a Crossmaglen Rangers side that is without Jamie Clarke but which still boasts considerable experience in the form of the Kernan brothers Aaron, Stephen and Tony, defenders Paul McKeown and James Morgan, and cutting-edge forwards Kyle Carragher and Michael McNamee.

While the Rangers were stretched by Pearse Og in their semi-final, they are likely to have their guard up for a Maghery side that has palpably increased in confidence as the season has unfolded.

In the second Armagh semi-final, Ballymacnab will meet Harps tomorrow night.

Harps beat Killeavy in their quarter-final showdown and will be powered by Gareth Swift, Charlie Vernon and Declan McKenna, while Ballymacnab will be looking to key men Gavin McParland and Rory Grugan for inspiration.

Belfast Telegraph


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