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Rossa through after thriller

By John Campbell

O’Donovan Rossa 4-7 Kilcoo 0-14: O’Donovan Rossa Magherafelt booked their place in the final of the Ulster Minor Football Club Tournament when they overcame Down champions Kilcoo by 4-7 to 0-14 in a thrilling semi-final yesterday.

Hosted by the St Paul’s club in west Belfast but blighted by poor weather conditions for the most part until now, the competition has suddenly sparked into life and there is the tantalising prospect of a riveting decider on Sunday January 16.

But before then the second semi-final is down for decision on Suday next when Antrim champions Lamh Dhearg, who have made a big impression in the tournament to date, will take on Donegal standard-bearers Kilcar.

O’Donovan Rossa’s fine win yesterday was highlighted by a major contribution from Anton McElhone who scored 2-2 with their other goals coming from Niall Higgins and Philip McCusker.

Kilcoo, who have dominated Down football at Minor level for the past two years, showed commendable courage and spirit and this was best manifested by Jerome Johnston and Darren O’Hanlon. Johnston landed 0-8 (seven frees) while O’Hanlon scored 0-3, with one of these coming from a free.

But the Magherafelt side’s penchant for finding the net underpinned their performance and this in turn augers well for their prospects in the decider.

Antrim aces Lamh Dhearg can count on big home support when they meet Kilcar in next Sunday’s ‘semi’ following their 1-18 to 0-3 win over Fermanagh title-holders Aughadrumsee in Saturday’s quarter-final.

The Hannahstown side carried too much fire-power for their Erne opponents and might even have won by a more convincing margin had they taken all their chances. Midfielder Stephen Lynch channelled out a generous ration of possession which his forwards turned to good account.

Kilcar booked their place in the last four by proving too strong for Armagh champions Shane O’Neill’s from Camlough who had created a surprise by winning the county Minor title.

But the Donegal champions, with the McHugh brothers prominent, built up an early lead and were never really in trouble although the fact that they conceded 3-5 will be a source of some concern.

On the other hand, in amassing 4-17 they showed the kind of shooting power that could pose big problems for the Lamh Dhearg defence on Sunday.

Tournament organiser Billy McLarnon admitted yesterday that the more tolerable weather had served to give the competition a new lease of life.

“We have had some superb matches over the course of the past two week-ends and this has helped to offset the disappointment occasioned by earlier postponements. The teams remaining in the hunt for the trophy have all shown themselves to be very focussed and we are confident that we will have big crowds for our second semi-final and final,” said McLarnon

Belfast Telegraph


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