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Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Why I love the Ulster Club

WE got a bit of a shock here in Donegal last weekend when St Eunan’s went about dismantling Naomh Conaill in the County final. In the lead up to the game I don’t think too many would have predicted anything other than a Naomh Conaill win so that goes to show you how much of a surprise this was.

I wrote here last week that St Eunan’s had the forwards to cause Naomh Conaill problems but I thought that Glenties would be too experienced for them.

Great credit must go to this St Eunan’s team for pulling off this win and with the club also winning the Hurling championship it has been a very successful year for the men from Letterkenny.

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All things considered we had a good club championship here in Donegal. The gap between the bigger teams seems to have been closed a little and we have a new winner so all in all you would have to be happy.

Now that most of the county finals have been played we now look forward to my favourite competition, the Ulster club championship. The competition is back after it was shelved last year due to the Covid restrictions and I have to say it’s absolutely fantastic to have it back up and running. There are some seriously big hitters in the competition this year so it should make for a fantastic few weeks of club action in the province.

It seems like a lifetime ago now when we went on a run back in 2018 and I can safely say that it was the most enjoyable competition that I have ever played in. Forgetting about the end result which ended up with us winning a first Ulster club title, the games played in the lead up to that were every bit as enjoyable.

I have gone on record before by saying that my favourite game that I have ever played in was our quarter-final clash with Cargin which was played on the Falls Road, and and that includes games played for Donegal in Croke Park

I just loved everything about that game, the setting, the pitch, the atmosphere, the game itself, It just was so special and for me to head into the heart of Belfast with my club to play a game was absolutely fantastic.

When you look at this year’s competition even before the winners were announced of each county you had some seriously talented teams in the mix.

You always have the likes of Scotstown, Crossmaglen, and Kilcoo etc who will nearly always be in the competition. When you look at the legs of Glen under the management of Malachy O’Rourke and Ryan Porter, and Kilcoo with their conveyor belt of talent this year’s competition should be a real humdinger.

The Donegal champions St Eunan’s probably have the toughest route possible after been drawn against the Derry champions Glen in the preliminary round and given the quality of the Derry championship, getting past this round will be a big ask.

Should the Donegal champions progress in order to reach the decider this year they must dispatch the Monaghan and Down champions after that so it really would be a fantastic achievement to win the competition.

I have looked closely at the Ulster club championship this year and I really do feel that whoever comes out of Ulster this year will have a fantastic opportunity of going the whole way.

I attended both Dublin semi-finals last Saturday night and although there was some fantastic individual players on show I just felt that the Ulster club teams perhaps are a notch or two above those Dublin teams, even though the Dublin champions will will probably go on to win Leinster at their ease.

The Dublin championship was very much free-flowing and sort of playing off the cuff whereas here in Ulster it’s all very technical and you really have to work extremely hard in order to break any of our teams down.

I will look forward to attending some of these games over the next few weeks as I really do believe that this competition is the best in the country at the minute, such is the level of competition between each team.

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