Four Masters are hoping for another St Paul’s adventure

By Niall Gartland

FOUR Masters are set to represent Donegal in the St Paul’s tournament for the second year running and that alone is an indication that they’re firmly on the right track as a club.

The back-to-back Donegal Minor Champions made it all the way to the final in last year’s Ulster Championship at St Paul’s, losing by only a couple of points to Dungiven.

They’ll be doing well to go on another run through the prestigious tournament as they’ve been handed an exceptionally tough draw against another Derry side, Magherafelt, who can call upon six of the county’s All-Ireland winning squad from earlier in the year.

This time around Four Masters are jointly managed by Greg Doherty and Odie McBride, and Doherty says they’re counting down the days for another crack at the provincial championship.

“The way Four Masters operate, we have certain management teams in place and we generally move up the ranks with their particular team. This must be my tenth year with this age group.

“If we’re half as successful as last year’s minors at St Paul’s we’ll be delighted, it was a great experience for the team and the club. We were in the preliminary round so we ended up having a run of four games, we travelled four weekends in a row and we really enjoyed that.”

It’s been a long time since a Donegal team has come up trumps at St Paul’s. Aodh Ruadh won the tournament back in 1992, before which Killybegs won two titles in the mid-eighties. Since then, nought, though Four Masters did come close last year.

“Historically Donegal haven’t fared too well especially compared to Derry clubs who are out on their own when it comes to titles.

“Donegal teams have only won a handful of title but there’s a bit of luck involved as well, Damien (Dunnion) and the rest of the lads who managed our team last year would’ve said they got a bounce of the ball here and there on the way to the final and you need that to win any title. It’s a very difficult tournament with so many top teams across Ulster and we’re not expecting it to be any different this year.”

Magherafelt are a bit like Four Masters in that they’ve been thriving at underage level and they have lads who know all about winning games beyond the confines of the county.

“We haven’t had much time to look into Magherafelt as the draw was only made a number of weeks ago but obviously we’ve made a few subtle enquiries. Those Derry boys seem to keep their cards close to their chests

“But listen we’re familiar with them given we’re all GAA men who followed the Derry minor team earlier in the year that went all the way to the All-Ireland and Magherafelt had a few big players on that team.”

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