BY PETER CAMPBELL
RTE aired a documentary at Christmas about one Glenties man, ‘Jimmy’s Winnin’ Matches’. They may have to do a remake with another Glenties man, ‘Neilly’s Winnin’ Matches’!
Neilly Byrne’s record as coach of Colaiste na Carraige continued last week with the U-16s taking the county title and on Friday, along with manager, Noel Ward, the school’s senior team take on Southern Regional College, Newry in the Ulster quarter-final.
The venue and time were not decided at the time of going to press, but Trillick and Irvinestown, were being mentioned.
The Carrick school have to field without the influential Stephen McBrearty, who has a recurrence of a knee injury picked up in the Donegal minor championship. He is due to have a scan and could be out for five to six weeks, which may see him miss the Ulster Minor League as well.
McBrearty’s loss means that Carrick are more hopeful than confident. “They are bound to be good footballers on this Newry team. Any team from Co. Down is a good team, but we know very little about them. We will be concentrating on our own,” said Neilly.
“We have been training in the old Towney pitch under lights and we were in Glen over the Christmas.”
Speaking of McBrearty’s loss, Neilly said: “It’s a huge loss in Ulster, where you’re depending on a bit of strength. We have to work around it,” said Neilly.
Coming after the unexpected success at U-16 level, Neilly has great praise for the latest county champions. “They trained exceptionally hard and I can’t praise them enough for their efforts in the final.”
A number of the U-16s including Padraig Byrne, Jamie McGinley, Philip McNern, Pauric Cunningham, Conor Doherty, Dominic Gallagher and Pauric O’Neill are part of the senior set up.
With Stephen McBrearty out, then greater responsibility will fall on captain Eoin McHugh, Aidan McGinley, Martin Byrne, Cormac Cannon, Stephen Jones and Ryan Gillespie.
“It’s great to playing this team. We don’t know anything about them and it will be a learning process.
Noel Ward will have to be on his toes,” says Neilly, who is looking forward to pitting his wits in Ulster again.
“Last year the U-16s played in Celtic Park in Derry. We should have won the game with something like 12 wides to their two. We were disappointed with that, then that’s life. We would be hopeful for Friday,” he says.