Minors go in search of Ulster Minor League glory

Minors go in search of Ulster Minor League glory
Donegal minors travel to Enniskillen on Saturday in search of the Ulster Minor League with Tyrone as the opposition (throw-in 12 noon).

Donegal minors travel to Enniskillen on Saturday in search of the Ulster Minor League with Tyrone as the opposition (throw-in 12 noon).

They are appearing in the final for the second year in-a-row, having lost out by 1-10 to 0-10 to Monaghan in the decider last year.

Declan Bonner is in charge this year and his Donegal squad have had a good campaign, defeating Fermanagh, Tyrone and Antrim before accounting for Armagh in the semi-final on Saturday last.

They were due to play Derry in Celtic Park in the third game of the series, but Derry (Donegal’s Ulster championship opponents) conceded that game, which means that Donegal have a 100% record going into Saturday’s final.

However, they are likely to face their toughest challenge when they meet Tyrone. When the sides met in Convoy in March, Donegal ran out winners by 1-11 to 2-6 after trailing by 2-4 to 0-4 at the interval.

Both sides were short a number of what would be termed ‘starting 15’ players on that occasion.

Despite that, it was probably Donegal’s most impressive display of the campaign as they had eight different scorers on the day - Cian Mulligan got the goal while Michael Carroll chipped in with five points.

The Tyrone goals came from Jonah Lafferty and Fintan McClure. McClure looked very dangerous at full-forward and he hit two of the Tyrone goals when the Red Hand men overcame Down with some ease in their semi-final on Saturday last in Downpatrick. They won that game by 3-12 to 0-7. Lee Brennan, who was missing for the clash in Convoy, hit 1-4 and Ronan Nugent, who missed all of the Minor League campaign up to then, came on as a substitute.

The Tyrone side are managed by Mickey Donnelly and last year while they lost out in the Ulster final to Monaghan, they then went all the way to the All-Ireland final before losing out to Mayo.

For Donegal manager, Declan Bonner, the game represents a great test: “We couldn’t ask for a better challenge. It is a real test for our side ahead of the championship and that’s what you would want,” said Bonner.

“We as a management and the players are really looking forward to it. We have met at U-16 and U-17 level and there has never been much between the sides.

“It will be good preparation for both sides ahead of the summer,” said the Donegal manager. “Tyrone got to the All-Ireland final last year and they have 6/7 of that panel available,” he said.

The Donegal manager has plenty of injury worries ahead of the game. Aodh Ruadh pair Niall Harley and Colm Kelly as well as Bundoran’s Jamie Brennan have missed the last two games and are still doubtful.

The manager says that the injury list has lengthened with Andrew McClean, Conor Doherty and Conor Morrison also carrying injuries while Christian Bonner is out for some time due to tonsilitis.

But despite that, Donegal should be able to field a strong team for what should be a great contest.