Kevin Lynch's look to banish Banagher and book place in Derry decider
Leadon Timber Frame Derry SHC semi-final: Kevin Lynch's v Banagher (tomorrow, Celtic Park, 4pm)
NOT since 2011 have Kevin Lynch's got their hands on the Fr Collins Cup and they go into tomorrow's showdown with Banagher hoping to end another record.
You have to go back as far as 2009 for the Dungiven side's last knock-out championship win over Banagher. Current players Paddy Kelly and Adrian Armstrong game off the bench at half-time to help them on their way.
The Banagher team all those contained the three McCloskey brothers – Ruairi, Oisin and Darragh – who still backbone the team. Goalkeeper Daryl McDermott, Steafan McCloskey, Sean McCullagh and Mark Lynch are the other four survivors, while the latter's older brother Ryan is now in his first season as manager.
“Regardless of the history, it is a local rivalry and it will nip and tuck,” said Kevin Lynch's manager Shane Elliott.
After losing to Slaughtneil in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 senior finals, Banagher have dropped off to intermediate and junior level in Derry's new three-tier championship structure that offers teams outside of the senior final a chance to pit the wits against the best of the rest.
Banagher's senior semi-final qualification this year came down to their clash with Ballinascreen.
Thanks to saves from Conor Campbell, Brian Óg McGilligan effective interchanging between midfield and full forward and a range of scorers they ran out six-point winners.
Banagher could have defender Gabriel Farren back in the fold after his recent transfer back from Canada. He would give Banagher another option as they bid to find a formula allows Brian Óg McGilligan to play in an advanced role.
They will be able to call on goalkeeper Daryl McDermott who made a return from injury in the club's football championship defeat at Newbridge.
Darragh Cartin will miss the rest of the season after a cruciate ligament injury on Derry duty earlier in the season. In his absence, Liam Eoin Campbell has contributed to the scoring, with Sean McCullagh and Tiarnán McCloskey also featuring in attack.
The Kevin Lynch's manager confirmed that Eoghan Cassidy is ‘still a doubt' with a groin injury that forced him out of Slaughtmanus' championship defeat to Castledawson, but former goalkeeper and now top scorer Seán Kelly is ‘fine' after being troubled with an ankle injury.
“He trained fine this week, but Cass is a bit of a doubt,” said Elliott, who will should have everyone else available for selection.
The Lynch's have moved Niall Ferris into the defence and is enjoying the freedom at wing-back, with Conor Kelly going in the other direction to operate in the inside forward line with Tiarnán McHugh.
Thomas Brady, Paddy Kelly Richie and John Mullan will hold key defensive positions in front of teenager Niall McGonagle who has taken over from Seán Kelly between the posts.
A battle awaits and with their greater consistency, Kevin Lynch's should come through to book another final berth.