Kilcar and Malin have the honour of getting the race for the 2012 RTE Raidio Na Gaeltachta Senior Football Championship up and running this Saturday with a preliminary round tie (throw-in 6.30pm).
Kilcar are managed by James McHugh, with former Fermanagh star and current Donegal mentor Rory Gallagher his number two, while Terence Colhoun is in his first season as Malin boss.
Kilcar are one of the form teams so far in 2012 and with just one defeat - St Eunan’s in the first round of the All-County League - and they take a four-game unbeaten run into Saturday’s clash. Succcessive victories came over St Michael’s, Gaoth Dobhair, Glenswilly and Ardara and Kilcar currently occupy third place behind St. Eunan’s on score average in the league table.
“We are going fine in the league which is encouraging especially as we’ve had a fair few injuries so far and probably haven’t had our best team out in any of the games to date,” said former Donegal forward Michael Hegarty.
“Paddy Gallagher hasn’t played since the first game and a number of other lads have been in and out with various kinds of knocks. Paddy along with Noel Hegarty and Ciaran McGinley are doubtful for this weekend. Paddy is struggling a knee injury and Noel and Ciaran have hamstring problems.”
Patrick McBrearty and Mark McHugh are current big name players in the Kilcar line-out with McBrearty in sparkling form on in front of the posts. In his last two games - Glenswilly last Sunday and Ardara the previous weekend - he has scored 1-4 and 1-5 respectively.
And along with Ashley Carr who hasn’t been behind the door either in recent weeks when it comes to hitting target with 1-1 against Ardara and 2-1 against Glenswilly, McBrearty carries the big scoring threat.
Hegarty, who at 32 is the veteran in the side, goal-keeper Eamon McGinley - back from a season playing with Castlereagh and a stint in the Roscommon panel - Luke Carr, Glen McBrearty and Barry Doherty are the experienced men in what is very youthful Kilcar.
“We have a very young team and we have a number of young lads coming through and should be ready to play senior football and the feeling is that we should be serious contenders again in the next few years,” Hegarty. “But for now it is a matter of consolidating our position in Division One and getting a run in the championship.”
Malin go into this encounter as massive underdogs. They may be on a decent enough run with three wins, a draw and one loss from their five games to date in the All-County League Division Two and had a decent enough run in the Ulster Club League.
Those victories were over Naomh Mhuire, Sean MacCumhaills and Bundoran -all at home- with their draw away to Cloughaneely. The one big test they fell down in was to Killybegs at home.
Declan Walsh is their one and only county men though Charlie Byrne and Paddy Kelly have senior county experience while Anthony Kelly has played county minor and U-21.
Kelly, who plays in midfield alongside his brother Paddy, Matthew Byrne, Paul McLaughlin, Terence Doherty and Dan McDaid are the men Malin will look to for the bulk of the scores.
Messers Kelly, Byrne, McLaughlin, Doherty and McDaid are definitely going to have to take their shooting boots and Charlie Byrne and his fellow defenders their A game to Towney with them if they are to go anyway near to causing the upset.
“We are fully aware of the scoring threat of Patrick McBrearty and the Kilcar forwards and we know it is a tough ask going to Kilcar, but we are going to down and give it our best shot. We have nothing to lose all the pressure is on them,” said Colhoun.
The game is preceded by the Senior Reserve Championship meeting of Kilcar and Malin. This game throws in at 5.15 pm.