Ulster Minor Football Tournament final
Dungiven v Four Masters
Sunday, St Paul’s Belfast, 1pm
By Michael McMullan
DONEGAL will once again provide the opponents for Dungiven on their return to the final of the Ulster Minor Football Tournament in Belfast.
Dungiven took the first of 17 titles during the competitions’ history to the Oakleaf County with victory over Aodh Ruadh, Ballyshannon in the 1990.
The Ballyshannon club were the last Donegal team to win the competition two years later after Killybegs had back-to-back titles in the mid-eighties.
The introduction of their own dedicated GPO, Emmett Stewart, has helped get the underage structures in place and Dungiven are back in the latter stages of Grade A under championships again across the various grades in Derry.
A goal helped them overcome Magherafelt in the Derry final this season and they backed up by hitting the net three times in a win over a Ramor United team with five Cavan minors on board.
It was their prowess in the middle sector and resilience after conceding three goals that put them on their way to a deserved semi-final win over Burren. Dungiven owned the ball in the middle third and hit the next score after all three Burren goals.
Odhran Murphy and Eoin Higgins were part of the Derry minor team that pushed eventual champions Galway all the way in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Murphy hit 1-8 in their win over Burren with the lively Darach McGonigle hitting their second goal.
Bobby Butcher, Joe Dillon
and Pádraig Haran are their key players at midfield, with Conor Gaile also pulling out to be a kick-out option.
Murphy, Gaile and substitute Ryan McCloskey found the net in their opening round and managers Darrell O’Kane and Emmett McKeever – assisted by Daire McKeever – will be hoping for a fruitful return.
The Dungiven management will
no doubt have been in Belfast on Monday to run their eye over Four Masters.
An early wind assisted scoring blitz saw the Donegal Town based club 1-4 to 0-0 ahead after 12 minutes before adding another point against a Donaghmore team that failed to register a score in the first half.
To put it in context, the Tyrone minor team that put four goals past Derry in the Ulster minor final was backboned by Donaghmore players.
Seanan Carr is the fulcrum of the Four Masters attack, with Callum McCrea, Terence McGovern, Conor McCahill, Lewis Muldoon and Derry City underage soccer star Kevin Muldoon also pivotal in their side.
Four Masters have won every competition on their way to Sunday’s final and the club currently hold all Division One underage titles within the county.
St Paul’s began the competition in 1982 and barring having it shelved in the last two years due to Covid, the competition has gone from strength to strength.
If Dungiven are to make it title number two, they’ll need their best performance of the season in a game that should serve up all that is good in underage football.