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GAA Football

Aidan Gillen final boost for Kilrea ahead of Ulster club minor clash with Burren

Kilrea’s Daithi McLaughlin hugs the touchline in their semi-final victory over Carrickmore. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Tony McGee

Kilrea have received a boost ahead of Sunday’s Ulster club minor football final against Burren after the red card dismissal of goalkeeper Aidan Gillen was downgraded to yellow to leave him eligible for the decider.

When a brief flare-up happened on the sideline 45 metres from his goals, Gillen raced outfield and was immediately red-carded by referee Gavin Finnegan. 

“No-one saw Aidan doing anything that deserved a sending off,” said Kilrea manager Vincent McKenna. 

“Thankfully, the wrong has now been righted and Aidan will be able to play. Granted, he shouldn’t have ran out from his goals but he didn’t touch anybody.”

Gillen had pulled off a few vital stops during the game and to plug the gap full-forward Niall Johnston moved back to nets. He also made a useful save but within minutes was faced with a Carrickmore penalty which was scored.

Johnston will be back in the number 14 jersey for the final as the Derry champions will line-out in a similar way to how they did in that semi-final. Burren may have a change in their line-up from their wins over Dunloy and Enniskillen Gaels.

“It is possible that Shane O’Hare will return to his wing half-back position,” said manager Neil Coulter. 

“Shane missed out last two games because of an injury but he has been progressing well and hopefully he will be ready to play in the final. We will make a final decision just before the game.”

Both managers are full of praise for the opposition. 

“The two Murdocks are excellent players and Burren have a very strong midfield pairing,” said Kilrea boss McKenna.

“We certainly will have a game on our hands. Burren have had two weeks’ rest since their semi-final while we will have only six days and that should be an advantage to them.”

Coulter watched Kilrea’s grandstand finish against Carrickmore and was very impressed. 

“Their work-rate, pace and power are excellent,” he said. “After surviving a tough Derry championship they have come through three tough games in the Ulster test and I rate them as strong favourites for the final.

“We had a few close calls, particularly against Carryduff in Down and Dunloy gave us a close game also. 

“We were lucky to get three quick goals against Enniskillen that killed the semi-final off but, now we will face a very well-balanced Kilrea team.”

He admits that they have noticed the play of Pearse’s scorer-in-chief Paddy Quigg, who has had a wonderful tournament. He is a goal-grabber when required and his two late, late pointed free-kicks to win the semi-final showed maturity far beyond his teenage years.

 Burren’s Declan Murdock heads for goal in their semi-final win over Enniskillen Gaels

There are many others in the Kilrea panel who have showed class. Players like Gearoid McLaughlin, Larry Kielt, Conor Gillen and Niall Johnston provide a solid spine in the team.

Burren have also their sharp-shooters and strong defenders. The Murdocks, as mentioned, are excellent players. Liam Kerr is there too and the return of Shane O’Hare would be a timely boost.

Derry teams have won 15 of the 34 finals to date with Kilrea bringing home the Jimmy McConville Cup in 2007. Only two Down teams have been successful and Burren isn’t one of them. Saul won in 1983 and Rostrevor were champions in 2004 – beating Kilrea in the final.

GAA Football

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