Drumlane to face junior royalty
PREVIEW: Ulster Junior Football Club Championship
On Sunday afternoon (1:30pm) Cavan junior champions Drumlane are back in Ulster club action when they make the short trip down to St Tiarnach’s Park. Their opponents will have a stronger than usual home advantage, as Clones progressed from the extremely competitive Junior championship in Monaghan this year.
The task at hand for Martin Dunne’s side in his first year managing an adult team is by no means an easy one. The Monaghan Junior champions have appeared in four of the last ten Ulster Junior Club Championship finals and won three of them, making them the most successful county in this competition in the last decade.
Since the competition began in 2001 Monaghan sides have been in 14 of the 21 finals and won eight of them, so they are deserving of the title Junior Kings of Ulster.
Cavan on the other hand have only appeared in three finals with Drumgoon winning it in 2001 and Swanlinbar, while losing the final were awarded the title in 2010 due to Corduff fielding an illegal player.
On Drumlane’s side is recent history: the fact that the reigning champions are Denn, so the path is already worn and fresh.
St Tiernach's Park
Sunday, November 6
Drumlane having got over the first round by the narrowest of margins, have their feet wet. For Clones, who won their championship final on October 15 and lost out in a league final a week later to Killanny, Sunday will be their first experience of provincial club action.
Drumlane look to have come through their win over Craigbane from Derry with no further injuries and will hope to have Josh Marsden and Ciaran O’Brien available for selection for the first time since their semi-final win over Drumalee.
Clones have come through the Monaghan Junior Championship undefeated and despite entering the final against Killanny as underdogs they came away with the win after a Darren Freeman goal proved the difference between the sides. The former Monaghan county senior Freeman is top scorer and free taker for Clones playing most of his football close to goal.
Wearing the number 11 jersey is David Freeman, who is supplier in chief in a very strong middle eight. James Mealiff, captain Cameron Dowd, Fabian Beggan and Darragh Holand are four strong units that like to physically impose themselves around the middle of the field. Lining out at full back for Clones is another former Monaghan county player Fintan Kelly, who is fond of charging up the field to get on the scoreboard.
Clones have shown plenty of scoring power this year having bagged 15 goals in their seven championship games this year. They average just over 2-13 per game going forward and defensively have only seen 4-70 go past them in the championship. Their manager Adrian Alford is a clubman who has climbed to the top job having guided underage club teams to success in the last few years.