MILFORD AND KILCAR open proceedings in tomorrow’s Minor Football Championship double-header at MacCumhaill Park.
The two sides are chasing the Division 2 title, throwing in at 2pm at county headquarters.
Milford (pictured above) will plan without centre-back Ronan Doherty, who broke a collarbone in the Under-16’s play-off against Buncrana a fortnight ago. On the other hand, last year’s county minor Kane Barrett, who has just 20 minutes under his belt of late, could start having been sidelined for the best part of a month.
“Ronan has been a constant and will be a loss,” Milford manager Aodh McCormack said. “Bar that, Kane has come back in and is an important player – he’s our talisman.”
Connor Gormley stood up to the plate in the Northern Minor Board Division 2 final in Downings last month as the Moyle View Park side finished strongly to win 1-12 to 1-8 against Cloughaneely.
Then, in the county semi-final, a 2-8 to 2-6 over Bundoran was secured with Gormley scoring 1-2 and Adam Serrinha also grabbing a goal at Killygordon.
Milford last won the age bracket in 2006 and this season McCormack says the ‘Jim McGuinness factor’ has his panel in good stead, a theory cemented when it’s considered they toppled Gaoth Dobhair, last year’s top flight champions, 1-5 to 0-6 in February.
“The way football is now, there’s so much preparation,” McCormack, who is assisted by Conall McFadden, Barry McNulty and Paul Grier, said. “We’ve been at it two nights a week since then. I suppose Jim McGuinness raised the bar but teams want to win and championships are becoming harder and harder to win.
“The win over Gaoth Dobhair really got the support behind us. It set the ball rolling. Kilcar, in Conor Doherty, have a good a minor as there is at this level but with minor football going well, it would be good for all four teams in Ballybofey on Saturday (including St Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill in the Minor Division 1 final), it’d be great to see everyone perform to their potential and then see who wins.
“All in all, minor level football is about getting players ready for seniors and we always said that if we get three through to the seniors a year we’d be doing well. This year we have 12 players that played senior and reserve so we’re happy enough with that.”
Kilcar (pictured above by Charlie Ó Dónaill) will have to dip considerably into their Under-16 side who defeated Four Masters 2-13 to 2-11 on Monday in the Southern Regional Board final.
At minor level, manager Kevin Lyons will certainly be eager to avoid the 4-13 to 0-5 loss at Milford’s hands in the league at St Mary’s Park in Convoy but a more accurate indicator might be their 2-8 to 2-6 win over Bundoran in the Minor Southern Regional final – that’s the same scoreline Milford overcame the Seasiders in the County semi-final.
Afterwards, in the last four in the county, Kilcar defeated Cloughaneely 1-10 to 0-7.
“We’re picking players down to the Under-15s and had 10 on the Under-16 team on Monday night,” said manager Lyons, who was wing-back when Kilcar seniors last won the Dr Maguire in 1993.”
John James McNelis has returned to the set-up to boost the average ago, while Doherty is part of the club’s senior panel. Daniel Lyons is a county Under-17, while Gary Molloy, Shane Gillespie and Brian O’Donnell are on the Donegal Buncrana Cup panel.
“It’s always tough to get numbers here but with the lads involved with Coláiste na Carraige there’s a huge interest in football here in the south-west,” Kevin Lyons added. “That’s the only thing that anyone talks about in these parts.
“We had a slow start to the league and were missing Conor Doherty in this games – including the league match against Kilcar in Convoy – but have improved of late. We just hope it’s a good occasion and that everyone can do themselves justice. Good luck to all the teams playing.”