Aodh Ruadh are bidding to end a barren harvest in minor football when they face Cloughaneely, in the Division One Minor League final on Saturday in Convoy. (Throw in 2 pm).
It is 22 seasons since the Ernesiders last took home silverware at U-18 level, and 16 years have come and gone since they last contested a final at the age group.
That last success came with the 1990 defeat of Sean MacCumhaills in the Minor A final while their last big day out at U-18 was their 1996 final defeat to south of the county rivals Four Masters.
“It has been a long time and everybody at the club and all GAA people in the town are pretty excited about it. Hopefully, it is a stepping stone to resurrecting the club at all levels,” said the Aodh Ruadh boss Shane Ward.
Aodh Ruadh booked their place in the final with a three-point victory over beaten championship finalists St Eunan’s on Sunday last in Convoy.
“It is a very young side and with the exception of Ryan McGranaghan, Ciaran Keown, James Barron, Thomas Anderson and PJ Gillespie all the rest of the lads are either 16 or 17 and have been a very successful bunch.
“They have already won championships at U-12, U-14 and U-16 and that confidence that comes with winning seems to have rubbed off on the rest of the lads.”
While Aodh Ruadh are bidding to win a first minor in 22 seasons, opponents Cloughaneely chasing a first ever minor success having featured in a number of finals in both the league and championship in recent years.
“We have enjoyed success at all levels down the years, but minor is the one that just can’t crack,” said Cloughaneely manager Kevin Scanlon, who was also calling the shots when they lost last year’s league decider to Ardara.
The men from the North West clinched their place in the final with a comfortable victory over a Kilcar side minus Ryan McHugh and Stephen McBrearty at the Banks back in September.
Lee O’Brien, John Harley, Martin Ferry and Sean McClafferty were all members of the Cloughaneely, senior reserve championship winning side.
And along with senior players Sean McClafferty, Cian McFadden, Cillian Gallagher and John McGarvey, they will backbone the bid for that first minor title.
Scanlon said he was unsure about the availability of former Manchester United player Joe Coll, while he is definitely planning to be without county vocational player John Fitzgerald, who is sidelined with illness.
Aodh Ruadh are minus full-forward Jamie McDonald, who picked up a straight red card in Sunday’s win over St. Eunan’s.
In what promises to be a closely fought affair the influence of messers McGranaghan, Keown, Barron, Anderson, Gillespie along with young guns Eamon McGrath, David McGurn and Donal Kelly, should just swing it in favour of Aodh Ruadh.
Aodh Ruadh squad: Donal Kelly, Thomas Anderson, Ryan Patton, P.J.Gillespie, Darren Gethins, Niall Harley, Ciaran Keown, Eamon McGrath, Michael McNeely, Colm Kelly, Ryan McGranaghan, James Barren, James Kelly,David McGurn, Jamie McDonald, Pauric Patton, Philip Patton, Eddie Lynch, Calum O’Halloran, Alan Finan, Fergal Meehan, Matthew Maguire, Paddy Gillespie.
Cloughaneely squad: Sean McClafferty, Daniel Scott, Cian McFadden, Ciaran Ferry, Daniel O’Rabhbriagh, Martin Ferry, Lee O’Brien, Joe Coll, Sean Ferry, John McGarvey, Seosamh Harley, Cillian Gallagher, Sean McGarvey, Ciaran McGeady,Seamus Coll.