Following the break in fixtures for the All Ireland Final, there is no less importance being attached to the local action this weekend than there was on Jones Road last Sunday.
Without doubt the big game from the senior championship series will take place in North Lurgan on Sunday 2pm, where Sarsfield’s will provide the opposition in a sudden death encounter against Clann Eireann.
The Clann’s like their high moss opponents lost both of their group games thus far but the nature of the defeats could see country men starting as favorites for the all or nothing tie.
The hoops were at their most impressive this term last time out, running Crossmaglen to 4 points, having been unlucky not to have snatched a draw at the end of normal time, the Trasna outfit whilst comfortably beaten by Ballymacnab, witnessed their North Armagh rivals defeated by a 20 point’s plus margin by the ‘Nab, following a big reversal against Rangers.
It is expected however on home soil. the Clann’s will be a lot more hungry on Sunday in an attempt to salvage their season against a Sarsfield’s side which was unlucky to be relegated at the end of their league campaign.
Meanwhile Clan Na Gael’s Under 16.5 side are attempting to become just the third team from the club at juvenile level to win the Armagh Championship title.
The Lurgan boys under the guidance of Laurence McGuinness and Steven O’Hagan will aim to lower the colours of Crossmaglen this Wednesday night at the Athletic Grounds where they will feature in a double bill which also includes a curtain raiser between Eire Og and St Peters who contest the Division 3 decider.
With the blues having already won this year’s Feile competition, all of their youth teams are playing at the top level, which signals a good period ahead for the Francis Street club.
Although the Clans won the under 16 title back in 1965, they had to wait another 30 years before the side, managed by Gerard Skelton, Barry Mc Cabe, Enda Brady and Noel McCann, lifted the cup for the second time 14 years later.And the Clans are back at the coal face and ready to challenge a decent Rangers side.
Gerard Skelton, has great memories of the blues last Under 16 cup win he said: “In 2005 the boys did a clean sweep in the County, winning the North Armagh League and Championship, the All County Championship and the Stanley Headley Cup.”
With players in the side including Peadar Nash, Tom Mc Cabe, Aaron Magee, Ryan McGuinness and Sean Farnan the clan’s beat Tullysarren in Maghery to lift the title, which Gerard Skelton recalls: “For some reason we played a lot of games in Maghery that year, including the league decider, possible the best game of that entire season was between ourselves and Eire og which we narrowly won, on the night when Liverpool won the Champions League in Istanbul, so it was quite a night.”
As Clan Na Gael attempt to bring their impressive form to the table on Wednesday night, their more experienced supporters would recall that their winning under 16 side of 1965 went on to win 3 minor titles, before moving through to dominate Armagh and Ulster for a sustained period, the blues are more than half way to achieving a welcomed hat trick.