By Shaun Casey
THE ‘buzz’ is back in Ballyhegan as the Davitts prepare for the Junior Championship final against Clann Éireann IIs on Saturday (BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, 6pm). Ballyhegan last captured the Sean Quinn Cup in 2017 while it’s completely new territory for their Lurgan opponents.
There’s no recent history between the two teams as they both competed in different sections of the league. Ballyhegan finished second in Division 3A, just behind league champions Clonmore, while Clann Éireann IIs claimed second spot in Division 3B.
Stand-in skipper Paul McQuade is looking forward to the test that the Lurgan lads are sure to provide. McQuade, the team’s full-back, has the honour of leading his side into battle as captain Jack Rafferty has missed the entire championship through injury.
“They’ve had a really good string of victories together across this championship,” said McQuade of Saturday’s opponents.
“I’d say they’ve maybe been the dark horses of this competition and they have some really, really good players to look out for in their team.
“It’s an unknown really. At least with some of the previous teams we’ve played in this competition, we had the dry run against them but against Clann Éireann, we really can’t take these guys lightly. We haven’t played them before so we’re going to be expecting them to come out in full force against us on Saturday night.”
The excitement and anticipation that accompanies a championship final appearance has been prevalent in Ballyhegan and McQuade states that the ‘buzz’ has swarmed the entire club.
Ballyhegan were relegated from Intermediate last season and a win here will see them step up a grade once again for next season.
“It’s been brilliant, and the excitement has just sort of filtered through to the younger lads in the club and the underage teams and that,” added the Ballyhegan defender. “There’s a really good buzz about Ballyhegan at the minute, which is great to see.
“There’s a real good buzz about the club at the minute, we just can’t wait to get to Saturday. It’s a great honour to represent Ballyhegan as captain and we’re really looking forward to taking on Clann Éireann.”
Ballyhegan had to come through an extremely difficult semi-final to reach the showpiece as they locked horns with league winners and championship favourites Clonmore.
Ballyhegan eventually shook off their opponents to win by the minimum of margins.
Barry Hughes’ side flew into a commanding 0-6 to 0-1 lead midway through the first half, but as expected, Clonmore came right back at them. But with the aid of star men James McCormack and Peter McGrane, Ballyhegan held firm to make it through to the final,
“You’re always going to be up against it with a team like Clonmore. It was a local derby and I suppose over the years it’s been very tight; we might have grabbed a win against them and then vice versa.
“But we just about got over the line with that one and we’re looking forward to the final now this weekend.”