By Michael McMullan
CRAIGBANE manager Kevin Moore hopes the club’s request to Derry GAA is granted, allowing his side to play intermediate football in 2023.
The seven-time intermediate champions have been in the junior ranks in recent seasons, but beat Ballerin to land a league and championship double at the end of an unbeaten season.
Speaking to Gaelic Life ahead of their Ulster JFC preliminary game with Cavan champions Drumlane, Moore confirmed the club have made representation to play at a higher grade.
Derry’s proposed league restructuring this season had shelved any promotion from the junior ranks, before a u-turn to scrap relegation from Division 1 and the Senior Football Championship, on the grounds of player welfare, after Ballinascreen and Coleraine launched an unsuccessful appeal against h0w the play-off format was changed in mid-competition.
Moore wants his side to follow in Desertmartin’s footsteps, who won back to back junior titles, beating Craigbane in a semi-final and final on their way. With promotion not on the table, Desertmartin made representation to be moved up to intermediate at the end of last season and it was granted.
The Craigbane boss, who also called for a return to promotion and relegation in the Derry leagues, stresses their request is based on wanting a young side to develop.
“Playing in an non-competitive league, sure it’s a waste of time,” he said. “There were teams not fulfilling fixtures and what use is that to you if you are trying to work with young players. The leagues have to be competitive and there has to be relegation for any sort of a league.
“After the senior one, (championship play-offs being cancelled) we made noises about wanting to get moved up to intermediate football and the noises we were getting back is that after the county finals they’d take a look at the league structures.
“They never closed the door on it, they never said yes or they never said no, but we hoping to get up. We are not saying we are too big for junior football or are getting too big for our boots.
“We think we are an intermediate team and we are trying to develop. Outside of maybe three players, the rest are in their early 20s, it’s not 23 or 24, it’s 20 or 21.”
Craigbane, twice Ulster intermediate winners, travel to Kingspan Breffni this weekend to take on a Drumlane side that beat Arva in the Cavan final after losing to them by 10 points in the group stage. The winners will play Clones in the quarter-finals.
ULSTER JFC 2022
PRELIMINARY ROUND – October 29/30
Drumlane v Craigbane
QUARTER-FINALS – November 5/6
(1) Derrynoose v Letterkenny Gaels
(2) Teconnaught v Stewartstown
(3) Newtownbutler v Pearses
(4) Clones v Drumlane/Craigbane
If Monaghan v Cavan, Clones, if Monaghan v Derry, Celtic Park
SEMI-FINALS – November 19/20
1 v 2
3 v 4
FINAL – November 26/27