GAA Football

Ulster junior finalists unlikely to stray from attacking approach

Stewartstown have routed provincial opponents Teconnaught and Letterkenny Gaels by 21 points and 10 points respectively on their way to Saturday's Ulster Club JFC final Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.
Francis Mooney

AIB Ulster Club JFC final: Drumlane (Cavan) v Stewartsown (Tyrone) (today, Clones, 1.15pm)

An attacking strategy has taken Stewartstown and Drumlane to the Ulster Club JFC final, and neither side is likely to deviate from the tried and trusted when they meet at Clones today.

They'll stick to what they know best, with talented playmakers and clinical finishers given licence to take the lead in what promises to be a refreshingly positive, open decider.

After completing the Tyrone double, Stewartstown have routed provincial opponents Teconnaught and Letterkenny Gaels by 21 points and 10 points respectively.

Dan Lowe hit 1-6, with Gareth Devlin scoring six points in the 2-15 to 2-5 semi-final win over the Donegal champions.

The Cavan men were even more emphatic in their 3-15 to 1-8 semi-final defeat of Newtownbutler, with Daryl McGurren and Michael Owens hitting a combined total of 2-7.

They have shown their battling qualities as well, getting the better of strong Craigbane and Clones sides with just a point to spare on each occasion.

Experienced full back John O'Dowd is a solid defensive anchor for the Breffni men, with his brother Dane a key man around the middle, with the attacking threat coming from skipper Ryan Connolly, McGurren and Owens.

Harps star Devlin, who played in the team that won the Ulster JFC title in 2004, is still going strong and scoring heavily.

Macauley Quinn and Cathal Devlin provide power in the central area, in front of a compact defence in which skipper Mark Rooney and Darren Devlin are key men.

Drumlane manager Martin Dunne believes his side needs to find an extra level to get over the line this afternoon.

“There's definitely areas where we can improve. No team is perfect, so we'll be trying to improve as much as we can from the last day,” said the former Cavan attacker.

“Some of our basic skills probably let us down in the final third the last day.

“We had a couple of goal chances that we didn't take, so we have areas to improve there.

“And around the middle, we could mix it a wee bit more out there as well, and we want to be a wee bit tighter at the back, because we coughed up a soft goal the last day.”

Meanwhile, Stewartstown joint manager Blake Smyth is concerned at the injury toll which has seen his side already lose three players, with others struggling with knocks picked up in last weekend's semi.

“The games are coming thick and fast, and every team is bound to be picking up injuries, and we're no different,” he said.

“But we'll just patch the boys up and give it one more go. If you get any sort of knock at all, you'll not be a hundred per cent in six days, there's no chance of that.

“All you can do is just prepare your best, tape up, take a few painkillers and just get through the game.”

And he insisted that today's game will be the toughest his side has faced.

“We definitely got the easier side of the draw. It you look at the other side – Craigbane, Clones, Drumlane – probably the three favourites to win it all on the one side.

“It was lucky enough for us, it has got us this far, but this will be the hardest game we have played so far.

“We need to be absolutely on our A game to have any chance against these boys.”

GAA Football