By Shaun Casey
THE last time Killeavy and Clan na Gael clashed in the championship, back in 2016, both were competing at intermediate level.
That was a quarter-final clash which the Clans won on a 1-14 to 0-11 scoreline but Killeavy made the faster step up to senior football.
The south Armagh men claimed Intermediate glory in 2017 while Clan na Gael had to wait until 2020 to make the jump to the top tier.
There isn’t much recent history between the two, but Killeavy boss Wayne Kierans has a good idea of the challenge his team face this weekend.
“I certainly don’t know them because they weren’t involved in Division 1A this year, but we still know they’re a strong team, they’re a physical, powerful unit,” said Kierans, who is in his first year in charge of Killeavy.
“I watched them against Carrickcruppen, and they did really well that day under really difficult circumstances with a man down and the bad conditions. There’s not a lot of big match history with them but we know enough to be prepared well for this Sunday.”
Killeavy booked their spot in the last eight with an opening-round win over a Madden side that gave them a lot of trouble during the league.
“We had two titanic battles with Madden in the league, they won one and we won one and it was a really tough draw,” Kierans added.
“From what I’ve seen of 1A this year in Armagh, I would have rated Madden very highly. So, to get a performance and to get over the line against them the first day when it’s do or die championship, it was a really great day for us so we were delighted.”
Killeavy’s runs in the championship have been halted by Crossmaglen over the last two years and this season they were tipped as top contenders. But injuries to key men has seen some of that expectation dwindle.
Star man Ciaron O’Hanlon is out for the rest of the season after suffering a bad injury, as are youngsters Lee Rice and Oisin King along with forward Miceal McNamee.
“They are all long-term injuries unfortunately. Lee was the only one that we came to terms with right at the start but Ciaron and Oisin, getting injured in the same game was a massive blow to us.
“Ciaron was only back obviously from the Armagh panel but there is a strong panel there. For us in the championship, whether it goes beyond this weekend or not, we’re not going to have them, so we just have to get on with it and use the strength of our panel.
“The talent is in Killeavy, there’s no question about that and the strength in numbers is in Killeavy.
“It’s not good to lose players of his calibre but there are good replacements there.
“There’s a few of the younger players knocking on the door for the starting 15 as well and they’ll certainly be involved at some stage
on Sunday if not the next day hopefully.
“There’s a good strong panel there and the age profile of the team is really, really good as well.”