Sunday’s Armagh Junior Championship Final at the Athletic Grounds will see two teams take the field who know each other very well.
North Armagh derby rivals Annaghmore and Clonmore who contest the decider will both line out a host of players who played for amalgamated side St. John’s over a number of years at youth level.
Considering the players will need little introduction, the game its self should be a fascinating affair with no quarter asked or given.
Annaghmore will enter the final in the knowledge they are already promoted to Division 1, a luxury which they are sampling for the first time in their history.
Their opponents Clonmore, under the leadership of Armagh full back Brendan Donaghy, were one of only two teams who beat Annaghmore in league action this season, Intermediate champions Madden were the other team to take both points off Sundays finalists.
So which side will start as favourites for this weekends Junior final? According to local man Kieran Robinson, who is a former Annaghmore player and manager, either side could claim to be the underdogs.
Kieran said, ”Sunday’s final is too difficult to call. Some people would be suggesting Annaghmore will be favourites due to the fact they won promotion yet equally Clonmore beat Annaghmore in the league so the game could go either way.”
Kieran, a coach at the Sarsfields club, was a part of the Armagh minors management team which won the All Ireland title, believes Sunday’s derby tie could have the potential to be a classic. “Both teams will be equally determined,” he added. “There is a lot of experienced players on both sides and you would have to say the event has created a great buzz among both sets of supporters and in the wider community.”
Clonmore, who are managed by Jack Smyth and Gerard Cunningham, have a lot of talented players to call on including county player Brendan Donaghy, the Grimley brothers, Cathal Cunningham, Ruairi Cunningham and Dan Mullan who was part of the Armagh Minors squad in 2011. Annaghmore have a wealth of both youth and experience in their line out including former Armagh player Shane Smyth, the McKeever twins, Conor McCann and Dan McQuade. The Annaghmore management team consists of Gavin McGilly, Des McCormick and Paul McCullaugh.
The local derby should draw a big crowd but former Annaghmore manager Kieran Robinson concluded, “There could be a point in it either way. Both sides will be desperate to win the game and it should be a fantastic occasion”