Dunloy, Ballymena

© 2018 by Unit Updates.

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St Brigid's Cross Swords with Carryduff

James Smith lines up a free kick in difficult conditions in the Quarter-Final win over Crosserlough.

Carryduff GAC (An Dún) v St Brigid's Belfast (Aontroim)
Martin Conroy (Tír na nÓg an Mhaigh, Tír Eoghain)

When the draw for this tournament took place back in December, the potential of a derby clash between Down's Carryduff and Antrim's St Brigid's caught the imagination.

After a disappointing withdrawal from Carryduff's opponents Carrick Emmets, St Brigid's came through a comfortable encounter with Cavan's Crosserlough to set up this intriguing clash.

A number of the players involved actually attended school together in Our Lady and St Patrick's College in Knock and with Carryduff a mere jaunt up the Saintfield Road from St Brigid's catchment area, it adds extra spice to this cross-county clash.

The Malone Road men had a fine season in 2018, ending in December when they claimed the Antrim U21 crown with a victory over a fancied Dunloy side at Spórtlann Choláiste Feirste. Earlier in the season, many of the squad had been involved as the Senior team sealed a return to the top division, clinching promotion with a final-day win over Tír na nÓg.

Our Man of the Match from the Quarter-Final, Peter Webb.

James Smith is a formidable presence at full forward and is surrounded by a very mobile forward line. Peter Webb, John Blaney and Peter Henvey chipped in 2-07 of their 3-10 total in that win over Crosserlough the last day out.

Patrick Finnegan picked up the Bank of Ireland Man of the Match as he kept the midfield engine running smoothly and a large part of his role also involved covering back in front of his defence, which he performed admirably as Crosserlough began to force their way back into the game.

For Down champions Carryduff, their last game as an U21 side was back in October, when they saw off Bryansford in their county final. The late cancellation of their Quarter-Final clash with Carrick Emmett's sees them coming into this game slightly less prepared than they might like.

Daniel Guinness, who was excellent for the Down men in last year's tournament, continues to excel in purple and gold, while Owen McCabe poses a potent threat in attack. The Mourne side are also boosted by the return of Ronan Beattie, who missed last year's tournament and the talented forward will be relishing the prospect of this encounter.

St Brigid's celebrate their Antrim title back in December.

The local nature of the rivalry between the sides makes the result unpredictable, with many of squads having studied and played alongside each other for their school side. The more recent game experience of St Brigid's could give them an edge but Carryduff are competing in the tournament for the second consecutive year, having lost out at this stage last year to eventual winners Gaoth Dobhair.

However, momentum is key and it currently sides with the Belfast side, who could be celebrating a historic spot in the Paddy McLarnon Cup Final on the weekend of their patron saint's feast.

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