Northern Ireland news

St Enda's fans to descend on Dublin for all-Ireland intermediate club final

Pupils from Gaelscoil Eanna Darragh Quinn, Caolan Mac Coille and Dualtach Keenan preparing for Naomh Eanna's All-Ireland Intermediate football final in Croke Park today. Picture by Bill Smyth

FANS of Co Antrim GAA club St Enda's will today descend on Croke Park in the hope their team can claim an historic All-Ireland victory.

The Glengormley club play Kerry champions Kilcummin in the intermediate club football championship final this afternoon.

The team's march to the final has caused huge excitement in the area - as well as interest across Ireland - not least because the club suffered huge losses during the Troubles.

Five St Enda's members were murdered during the conflict and the clubhouse was burnt down many times.

Niall Murphy, the club's vice-chairman, said it has hired eleven 52-seat coaches to take supporters to Croke Park and a special train has been arranged for those travelling by rail.

"It's going to be a carnival," he said.

"It's the first time a special Translink train has been put on for a club final."

Mr Murphy, a high-profile human rights solicitor, said several club members, including himself, travelled to Dublin yesterday and will enjoy a tour of Croke Park ahead of the match.

He said the club will never forget its members who died in the conflict.

"It's going to be a very poignant day and a time to reflect on those who can't be with us," he said.

"There's going to be a bitter-sweet element to the day but that we're able to stand as a community with all our fellow Gaels who have supported the club through it all - it's just going to be a very special time."

St Enda's are playing in the intermediate club championship All-Ireland final. File picture by Philip Walsh

The Glengormley side had never won a senior football championship in Antrim until this year but now find themselves on the verge of All-Ireland glory.

As excitement built ahead of the big game, team members visited schools including St Bernard's primary and Edmund Rice College.

The club also held a special talk show on Thursday, hosted by journalist Mark Sidebottom.

The event included former Derry All-Ireland winner Joe Brolly, legendary Antrim hurler Sambo McNaughton and GAA historian Paul Rouse from University College Dublin.

"Last night was our big opportunity to come together as a tight club unit," Mr Murphy said.

Earlier this week, Belfast boxers Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes voiced their support for St Enda's bid for All-Ireland glory.

Frampton, from Tigers Bay in north Belfast, said he hoped the club would beat their southern rivals.

"Just a good luck message to all the boys, hope you bring the All-Ireland back to Hightown. All the best lads," he said.

Kilcummin, which is based three miles north of Killarney counts former GAA president Sean Kelly among its members.

Meanwhile, Cushendall will line out against Galway champions St Thomas in the All-Ireland Club Hurling semi-final this afternoon.

The clash will take place at Parnell Park in Dublin.

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