Dunloy, Ballymena

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Noisy Neighbours Chase Minor Glory

They live and train cheek by jowl, and this afternoon, the minor footballers of Pádraig Sairséil and O'Donovan Rossa will lock horns at Lámh Dhearg as Hannahstown hosts the final of the Antrim Minor B Football Championship.

A decade has passed since a Sarsfields side has contested a MFC Final and as fate would have it, their 2008 final was also against today's opponents. On that occasion it was the Shaw's Road men who emerged victorious, but Paddies manager Michael Gerard Doherty will be hoping for a different outcome in Hannahstown this afternoon.

Having not fielded a minor team in five years, Doherty has been working steadily with this group of players and encouragingly for the Stewartstown Avenue men, all but one of the current crop will be eligible at minor level again next season.

Doherty's opposite number Hugh McGettigan has an impressive CV and was Antrim minor manager in 2017 as the county saw off a fancied Donegal side in the opening round. McGettigan picked up the Ulster GAA Writers' Association award during the course of that season and brings his wealth of experience to this Rossa team.

Although reigning Minor A champions, Rossa opted against entering a team in this year's all-county league, conserving their energy for a championship run that has seen them rack up an eye-catching 14-29 on their way to the final, with victories over Naomh Éanna, St Joseph's Glenavy and Gort na Móna.

Sarsfields on the other hand embarked on a league campaign that saw them win all but one of their eight fixtures. They also possess a keen eye for goal, but were frustrated in championship by firstly receiving a bye in the opening round, before having their scheduled Quarter-Final against Clan na Gael conceded. When they were eventually unleashed, a hungry Paddies pilfered 10-13 against St Mary's Rasharkin in the semi-final.

The Rossa side boast a number of senior regulars in their ranks, with Eoin McMenamin, Cormac McGettigan and marquee forward Dominic McEnhill all featuring regularly in what has been a tough season in Division 1 for the Rossa senior team. McEnhill in particular is a superb talent and one who has the potential to light up this game.

Sarsfields will look to Ethan Mervyn to organise and solidify their defence while Tomás Skillen provides the firepower and guile in the forward line. Caolán McKernan, younger brother of senior stars Daniel and Kevin, will take charge of their midfield and hope to dictate play as he has done on a regular basis in the Antrim league.

History beckons for a youthful Paddies side but Rossa have all the ingredients to make this one a highly competitive encounter between two vibrant teams. Ordinarily the Minor A champions would be installed as favourites, but a big turnover in players combined with Sarsfield's steady development means this one could go right to the wire.

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