Carryduff can’t wait for Paul McGirr semi-final

By Niall Gartland

THE prestigious Paul McGirr tournament is another major stepping stone for the Carryduff club in Down, acknowledges team manager Michael McGrath.

Carryduff won the U-15 Championship in Down for the first time in their history and now they’re gearing up to take on Armagh u-16 champions Dromintee in Sunday’s postponed semi-final clash (the Mourne side will be able to draft in u-16 players too).

It was initially pencilled in for last Sunday but weather conditions made for an unplayable pitch at Gardrum Park in Dromore, who host the tournament in memory of former Tyrone minor star Paul McGirr.

Managing Carryduff is current senior player McGrath and he’s looking forward to the game going ahead at the second time of asking.

“Obviously we’re prepared for Sunday and there’s nothing you can do about it being called off.

“It was a bit last minute, we were all ready to go, but it makes sense to postpone it if the pitch wasn’t ready. The weather forecast is a bit better this weekend so it’s probably for the best.”

McGrath doesn’t believe they are necessarily disadvantaged by the fact that Dromintee in theory have an age advantage given Armagh’s competition at this age group was played at u-16 level this year.

“It’s not something we’re mindful of and we’ve been able to bring in two or three u-16s from the club, there’s a few really good footballers who have come in.

“We’ve had a very strong year, we won the U-15 championship for the first time in our history so we’re feeling very positive and we’re just looking forward to the weekend.

“We’re not normally winning championships and it’s our first ever go at the Paul McGirr tournament so this is a big one for the club.”

McGrath was born in Derry City but moved to Carryduff when he was only three years old. His father is former county chairman Harry McEvoy, who founded the club, so he feels a special connection with Carryduff and after a few years helping out, has taken on the main role with the u-15 team.

“I decided I want to be the head coach myself, and it’s been a good year and is working out well.

“In our club we don’t have that as much players taking teams or coaching, so it’s just something different for the cubs to have a senior player taking them and it seems to be working well.”

Carryduff have been making serious inroads at underage level in Down and this particular team overcame a highly fancied and current Paul McGirr holders Burren after an epic battle that required a replay in the Down u-15 final.

Their captain Aodhan McEvoy leads by example for the Down champions while Liam Blaney, Jude Dixon and Owen McHugh will also be some of the leading men looking to progress to the Ulster final.

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