Little to separate Magilligan and Downings
AIB Ulster Junior Club Football Championship quarter-final: Magilligan v Downings (tomorrow, 12.45pm, Celtic Park)
AFTER the drama of their respective county final wins, Magilligan and the Downings both take a blind step into the unknown with high hopes of another historic victory.
The newly-crowed Derry champions had to do things the hard way to claim their first title in 28 years. They deservedly overcame both pre-Championship favourites Limavady and league winners Drum.
They needed a late goal to get past Limavady but had kicked umpteen wides in a dominant display. For the final, they remedied that. Their forwards missed nothing in the first half, kicking seven points into a gale-force breeze against Drum, who had the junior division’s meanest defence.
Eoin Canning is likely to slot straight back into their half-back line after missing the final. His replacement that day, Conor Kelly, looks set to miss out through a suspected concussion suffered in the decider.
Their massed ranks in defence closed down every avenue and they will need to repeat the same to stem an attack that contains former Donegal minor Lorcan Connor, who hit five of his side’s 11 points in their county final replay win over Muff.
Magilligan captain and their best man-marker, Michael McLaughlin, will have to get the better of that battle if Darren McShane’s side are to succeed.
The Downings looked beaten when they trailed by 1-7 to 0-7 heading into the final ten minutes, but they hit four unanswered scores, with the winner from heavily-strapped substitute Gary Bán McClafferty.
They won the All-Ireland junior Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta earlier in the year – with a recovery from eight down to win by two in their semi-final a testament to their fighting spirit.
The introduction of Danny McBride and McClafferty from the bench helped them across the line. They will need the same again to get past a fiercely determined Magilligan.