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Rossa set to begin McGirr Cup campaign

Captains Cian Conlon (Carrickmacross) and Barra McCaffrey (Rossa) ahead of the game Captains Cian Conlon (Carrickmacross) and Barra McCaffrey (Rossa) ahead of the game
By Staff Reporter

THE second quarter final of the Paul McGirr Ulster U16 Club Champions Tournament takes place in Gardrum Park, Dromore (Tyrone) this Saturday at 2:15pm when Antrim champions O’Donovan Rossa face the challenge of Monaghan Champions Carrickmacross.

Rossa have a strong pedigree in this competition having won it in 2011 and reached the final in their last visit in 2015.

With a team full of pace and no lack of finesse, Bill Kelly and his management are well aware of what it takes to win at this level.

Their Antrim campaign was a high scoring one throughout and their eye for goal is one thing the Carrickmacross defence will certainly be aware of.

Barry McBurney-Hegarty and James Boyle lead a strong defence, but it’s their towering midfield maestro Michael McDade and partner Ruaidhri Murray that could hold the key to victory for the West Belfast lads.

McDade’s aerial prowess and 1-3 tally in the Antrim final defeat of Moneyglass was one that caught the eye of many Antrim gaels.

Captain, Barra McCaffrey and Liam Carr are part of a very potent full forward line that has served Rossa well throughout the year.

“The lads are really excited about the game,” said Rossa manager, Kelly.

“It gives them an opportunity to play against the best teams in Ulster at this age. We are going into the unknown a bit and that’s a great experience for any young footballer. Hopefully by the final whistle Saturday we will all be able to say we have done our club and county proud.”

Carrickmacross are coming into the tournament by virtue of their Monaghan U15 Championship success as Monaghan have changed to the grades that look set to be standard across the country with the proposed new remit coming from Croke Park.

They have however a few more lads to into this team which will certainly provide a stern test for the Rossa men.

Jack and Fionan Carolan are the lynchpin’s of the Monaghan champions defence, Daragh Mee and team captain Cian Conlon form a hard working midfield partnership and will be looking to provide a platform for a spritely forward line.

Dualta Honney in full forward is the mainstay of the Emmett’s attack and his 1-6 tally in the Monaghan final against Magheracloone was just reward for a fine performance as he led his team to the title.

Manager, Leo Carolan has previous experience of the tournament and is certainly relishing a return.

“We are really looking forward to testing ourselves against the cream of Ulster U16 Footballers, particularly in such a prestigious tournament as the Paul McGirr Champions Cup,” he said.

“Although we’re a young team as U15 Monaghan winners, we are not short on ability and I hope we can do justice to ourselves and our county against a very strong Rossa team.”

Rossa will head into the game as slight favourites but they will certainly not be underestimating the Carrickmacross challenge, a lot will come down to the midfield battle and this could well tip it in the West Belfast men’s favour.

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