Donegal U-21 champions Naomh Conaill will fly the Donegal flag in Ulster this Sunday, when they face Derry kingpins Ballinderry, in the first round of the Ulster Club U-21 championship.
The game is in Creggan, Antrim, at the ground of Kickham Gaels, on Sunday with a throw-in time of 2.15 pm.
This is Naomh Conaill’s second time in the competition. Two years ago they reached the semi-final before losing to Glen, also from Derry, who went on that year to win the championship outright.
The Donegal champions are captained by Donegal All-Ireland winner Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and also have a number of the club’s senior team that were defeated in last season Donegal senior final by St. Eunan’s.
John O’Malley, Cathal Ellis and Jason Campbell were also members of the senior team. Naomh Conaill are managed by Connie Doherty and defeated a fancied St. Eunan’s, courtesy of a late goal from Seamus Ellis, on the Saturday before Christmas.
“We have been training away but given the poor weather and lads away from home it has been difficulty getting all the lads together and we haven’t had a game since the county final,” said Connie Doherty.
Despite the less than ideal preparation the Naomh Conaill boss is determined that the Donegal champions give a good account of themselves. But he does admit having watched Ballinderry in the preliminary round demolition of Fermanagh champions, Donagh, that Naomh Conaill face a stiff challenge.
Derry senior player Ryan Bell, who hit 1-3 from midfield, is the big name player in the Ballinderry line-up, but as with all Derry club sides, Ballinderry have quality right through their team.
Midfielder Patrick Moss is Naomh Conaill’s only injury concer. Otherwise Doherty has reported a clean bill of health.