Ballyraine United, Letterkenny North West U-14 1st Division Shield winners
The 2017 Champions League at the three age groups kicks off this Saturday with 12 games down for decision.
With the top two clubs from the South Donegal Division, East Donegal Division and the top four clubs from the Letterkenny North West Divisions qualifying, this year's competition looks like it's going to be a close affair at all ages.
U12 AGE GROUP
At the U12 age group, Group A sees Illistrin United, who are coached by Paddy McDaid & Kyle Maloney, play at home to Mulroy Academy from the Fanad Peninsula. Lagan Harps who won the East Donegal Division play hosts to Donegal/Killymard. Group A will be a tough call with each team capable of getting points on the board.
The Eddie McGrath managed Letterkenny Rovers, who topped their Division, will kick off as favourites for the competition and will start in Group B against the third placed Milford United from the same Division. The other match has the Runners Up from East Donegal, the skilful Ballybofey United side who will be travelling through Barnesmore Gap to play the Conor Clarke-managed side Erne Wanderers who won the South Donegal Area in a play off with Donegal/Killymard.
U14 AGE GROUP
Two clubs who have played each other a few times already this season, Bonagee United and Milford United, meet at the Dry Arch Park. The home side will start as favourites but Noel Gillispie's side, who incidentally were the only club to take points off the favourites Letterkenny Rovers in the league, are tough opponents who will battle until the end.
The 14s have Letterkenny Rovers as very strong contenders as they remain undefeated all season. They start Group B at home against James Bonner's Crusaders side who managed a magnificent third in their Division. The other Group B game sees Lagan Harps travel to the Hospital Field to play the winners of the South. Tough one to call here.
U16 AGE GROUP
This age group will be so hard to call as clubs lost players nearing the end of the league season to Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps and Derry City from the Airtricity League. Group A begins with Eany Celtic at home to Lagan Harps. The away side has lost Irish International Ronan McKinley during the transfer window to Derry City. Close call on this game. The other Group A game has Letterkenny Division Winners Keadue Rovers who lost Aidan McHugh, Jack Doherty to Derry and Adam McClafferty to Finn Harps play Gweedore Celtic who lost Jamie Doherty. This group will be a very close affiar.
Group B has Cappry Rovers, winners of the East, play the South Runners Up Donegal Town at home where advantage will be to the fore. The second game is between Gweedore United who are my favourites for the title, play a weakened Swilly Rovers who lost nine players in the transfer window.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FIXTURES
U12 GROUP A SAT 9th SEPT 10-30am
Illistrin United v Mulroy Academy
Lagan Harps v Donegal/Killymard
U12 GROUP B SAT 9th SEPT 10-30am
Letterkenny Rovers v Milford United
Erne Wanderers v Ballybofey United
U14 GROUP A SAT 9th SEPT 11-45am
Bonagee United v Milford United
Cappry Rovers v Eany Celtic
U14 GROUP B SAT 9th SEPT 11-45am
Letterkenny Rovers v Letterkenny Crusaders
Donegal Town v Lagan Harps
U16 GROUP A SAT 9th SEPT 5pm
Eany Celtic v Lagan Harps
Keadue Rovers v Gweedore Celtic
U16 GROUP B SAT 9th SEPT 5pm
Cappry Rovers v Donegal Town
Gweedore United v Swilly Rovers