Big north west clash in U-21 semi-final
St. Michael's put their U-21 A football championship on the line this weekend when they face Gaoth Dobhair, at the Mullaghaderg Banks on Sunday afternoon. (Throw in 2pm)
The game is a repeat of last season's quarter-final won by St. Michaels on their way to their first ever U-21 championship crown.
The champions have all but Martin McElhinney and Martin Breslin from last year eligible again though James Horan, Ben Kyle and Patrick McFadden have not featured in the campaign to date. Horan and Kyle are at College overseas and McFadden is recovering from a cruciate injury.
So far in the competition they have seen off the challenge of St. Eunan's (1-12 to 1-7) in the first round and the Michael Murphy powered Glenswilly 0-12 to 0-8 last time out.
"We played well the last day against Glenswilly once we got going. But we were very rusty in the first 20 minutes or so and it is a matter of picking it up again on Sunday against Gaoth Dobhair. They are a very good side and are one of the best teams left in the competition," said St. Michael's manager Colm McFadden snr.
McFadden is hoping to have his son Antoin (who suffered concussion against Glenswilly) and Daniel McLaughlin (who was laid low last week with the flu bug) back.
Like St. Michael's, Gaoth Dobhair have impressed in their victories over Fanad Gaels and Killybegs. The defeated Fanad 2-12 to 0-8 on the opening day before turning in a top class performance to overcome Killybegs 1-17 to 0-4 in the quarter-final.
"In fairness to Killybegs, they were short a number of key players and were very understrength and while we played well if anything we had it too easy against Killybegs. But it will be a different story against St. Michael's. They are the champions and have beaten two very good teams in St. Eunan's and Glenswilly," insisted Gaoth Dobhair manager Declan Kelly. Kelly, who was without the injured defender Manus Weed last time out, has concerns over the fitness of Paul Mulligan, Danny Curran, Daniel Cannon. Mulligan and Cannon are struggling with hamstring injuries while Curran picked up a groin strain training with the county team.
However, the manager is confident that all four will be fit for Sunday's showdown.