Derry's Minor Footballers bid for All Ireland glory

Young Derry fans from Holy Family primary school in Magherafelt wore their county colours to their support for the county's minor team ahead of tomorrow's All Ireland final. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

Derry minor footballers have lifted the hearts of Oak Leaf gaels by reaching tomorrow's All Ireland final, one of the first men to win the title has said.

Derry minors take on Kerry at Croke Park in the underage curtain raiser to the Dublin v Mayo senior final.

While All Ireland minor finals seldom generate the same frenzy as senior deciders, All Ireland fever has taken hold in Derry. Schools have been staging red and white days for pupils to show their support while the official county flag has even been unfurled over Free Derry Corner.

Former Derry minor, John Joe Kearney said the team has already lifted the hearts of the county's GAA community. In 1965, he played on the first Derry side to win the minor title. In 1989, he also managed the Derry minor team which won the All Ireland.

“Derry GAA has been in the doldrums recently and if they win, the minors can put the county back on the map,” he said.

The Slaughneil man has no doubt Derry can defeat Kerry.

“My advice to the team is the same as the advice we were given by the great Sean O'Connell in 1965, do what you're there to do. Forget about the crowd and all of that when you get onto the pitch.”

County GAA chairman, Brian Smith said the minor team came from every corner of the county.

“They have given us great hope. I know every Derry gael will be roaring them on,” he said.

Derry Sinn Fein MP, Elisha McCallion also sent good wishes.

Home-coming arrangements for the team – win, lose or draw – have yet to be finalised. However, the team will remain in Dublin on Sunday night. Throw-in in tomorrow's game is 1.15pm.

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