Irvinestown braced for tough opener

By Mark McGoldrick

IRVINESTOWN manager Shane McDermott is expecting a very difficult task when his side take on Cavan Gaels in the quarter-final of the St Paul’s Ulster Minor Club tournament.

For the second year running, the St Molaise side will represent Fermanagh at the provincial competition, which will take centre stage at the St Paul’s GAA club in Belfast.

McDermott says there’s a great sense of excitement within the Irvinestown squad and club as they prepare to kick off their campaign.

“We’re looking forward to it. We have been waiting for six weeks since the (Fermanagh) final and the lads have been working hard,” said the former Fermanagh inter-county player.

Irvinestown romped to the Fermanagh u-17 Championship title following a six-point win over Derrygonnelly in the decider back in October, booking their place in the Ulster Championship.

The St Molaise side has been the dominant force in the county for the past number of seasons – but the 2023 campaign was the most difficult, says McDermott.

“More so this year, we had a couple of tight games against Enniskillen and Derrygonnelly in the final,” reflected the Irvinestown boss.

“We’re well aware that the Ulster Championship is going to be a step up and we’re going to try and be ready for that.”

Since then, the St Molaise men haven’t played in a competitive fixture but the players have been putting in a lot of work in preparation for the St Paul’s tournament, according to McDermott.

“We’ve been working hard and we are looking forward to getting on with it on Saturday,” said the Irvinestown manager.

“With having so many representatives on the (St Michael’s College) MacRory Cup squad, it’s been hard to get any games but we have been training away at the 4G facility at the Bawnacre Centre.”

Last season, Irvinestown were knocked out of Ulster after a four-point defeat to Donegal champions Four Masters.

They’re back again and standing in Irvinestown’s way of a place in the semi-final is Cavan Gaels. McDermott is expecting a very difficult challenge from the Breffni side.

“They’re a big town and they would have a strong panel. They’re a club with a lot of history.

“They know whats it’s all to compete in the Ulster Championship and they have a huge pick and from what I believe, they beat a formidable Mullahoran team in the Cavan final.

“They have a couple of exceptional players and we’re expecting a very difficult task,” added McDermott.

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