Drumlane defender James McCahill. Photo: Adrian Donohoe.

Drumlane one step away from Ulster final

Drumlane’s Ulster voyage continues this Sunday as they attempt to become the second successive Cavan club to reach the Ulster Club Junior Championship final when they take on Fermanagh champions Newtownbutler at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones (throw-in, 1.30pm).

The Sons of O’Connell have two hard-fought wins under their belt in the provincial championship thus far, having seen off Derry champions Craigbane and Clones, both by a point, to set up this tilt at the Erne men.

While Fermanagh sides have generally not been strong at this grade and have made the final just once (Belnaleck losing to Donegal’s Naomh Colmcille in 2017), ‘Newtown’ are regarded as very much above-average representatives.

They beat the Antrim champions, Na Piarsaigh, by 3-18 to 1-6 in the quarter-final. They are managed by former Mullahoran and Cavan Gaels bainisteoir Darren Chapman, who gave an insight into the club’s approach to the Ulster campaign ahead of the opening round.

“Any success like this is just going to feed the momentum in the club, so Sunday is a very, very important game for us,” he said.

“We are taking it extremely seriously. We have prepared very well at training over the last three weeks.”

The ‘First Fermanaghs’ defeated Aghadrumsee in the county final, having earlier been beaten by their local rivals in the group stages. Among their leading lights is veteran full-forward Ryan Carson, who famously scored a late winning goal to secure Fermanagh’s first-ever championship victory at Breffni Park in the 2010 Ulster SFC against Cavan.

For all of that, however, Martin Dunne’s Drumlane side will still go in as favourites. The Monaghan champions are generally the standard-bearers in this competition and the Milltown men managed to see them off by a point despite not hitting the high notes on the day.

Captain and freetaker Ryan Connolly has been in outstanding form; towering full-forward Michael Owens also shone last time out while speedster Darragh Dolan has been a handful in every match.

It was the defence, though, which stood tall last time out. The likes of Donal Monahan, James McCahill and Mark Maguire all have county experience, as does goalkeeper Harry Clarke, with John O’Dowd providing the experience. Anything less than a win for the Cavan champions would be disappointing.

There will be no ticket sales at the ground; tickets for all Ulster Club matches can be purchased at ulster.gaa.ie/tickets or in any Centra or SuperValu store.

Meanwhile, Castlerahan are up and running in Ulster following a typically gutsy win over Devenish. Next up for them is the Ulster Club IFC semi-final when they will take on the Seamus McEnaney-managed Monaghan champions Saval on Saturday, November 26.