Bredagh and Carryduff paired for derby clash in Down SFC
#BELCLASSICO. Bredagh barely had time to celebrate their famous Down SFC victory over Bryansford before minds – and social media – turned towards a mouth-watering derby clash against arch-rivals Carryduff.
The latter had achieved a notable win of their own, defeating another major name in Down football, Castlewellan, but those victories will be overshadowed by the outcome of this eagerly awaited encounter.
It won't be 'win or bust', with the losers getting a second chance in the Down SFC format – but defeat will still feel like a disaster.
The wider GAA world may think that Belfast = Antrim but east of the river Lagan is county Down, an area where these two clubs are closing in on half a century of rivalry.
They're not just close in location, with both Bredagh and Carryduff formed after meetings in late 1971, this paper's former Down correspondent, the late, great Matt Fitzpatrick involved in getting both going.
Carryduff have had the better-known names over the years, including the legendary Greg Blaney, who was on the All-Ireland winning Down teams of 1991 and 1994 along with goalkeeper Neil Collins, while John Kelly started in 1991 and Mark McCartan also represented the county in that decade. Bredagh's Down players included county captain Damien Watson and Bill Gardner and Tommy White.
The current Down side has included Bredagh's Conor Francis and Donal Hughes, although the latter is away at present, while the Carryduff contingent has comprised Daniel and James Guinness, goalkeeper Mark Hynes, and Owen McCabe. McCabe is currently ruled out with a broken jaw sustained against Mayo in late June, while the versatile and lively Daniel Guinness is in the USA, with the Boston McAnespie's club.
The two clubs' round one wins were similar in several respects – both against big name, Division clubs, both effectively 'away' matches, both by four-point margins.
James Guinness, who burst to prominence with Down seniors in the championship this summer, grabbed the only goal of the game as Carryduff defeated Castlewellan 1-12 to 0-11 on Friday night in Newcastle.
Sean Blaney – a nephew of former Carryduff great Greg – was one of Bredagh's goalscoring heroes in their 2-10 to 0-12 win over Bryansford on Monday night, at Kilcoo, with Cormac O'Rawe getting their opening goal.
Carryduff hammered their rivals on Bredagh's own Cherryvale turf in the Division Two opener, winning by 5-8 to 0-9 in early April, and top the table after 16 matches, with 13 wins, one draw, and only two losses. However, Bredagh have bounced back from that brutal beginning to sit in third spot, with 11 wins and four defeats from their 15 games so far.
Both are clearly up-and-coming, growing, ambitious clubs, on and off the pitch. Carryduff, under the guidance of DJ Morgan, Danny McConnell, and Paddy Docherty have won the last two Down U21 Championships, reaching the final of the Ulster club tourney at Creggan earlier this year before losing out to Dromore of Tyrone.
It may be a good omen for Carryduff that they defeated another south Belfast side – St Brigid's of Antrim – in the semi-finals of that competition.
However, Bredagh will be a tough nut to crack under the management of Loughinisland legend Brendan Mason. The Cherryvale crew won the Down Intermediate crown last year under the management of Jody Gormley, lifting that trophy for the second time in three seasons.
* With The Oval not having a big enough pitch, Liatroim has been set as the venue for this, er, Titanic tussle, set to take place on Friday August 23.