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Junior Championship Preview - Kildangan V Ballykelly

posted 8 May 2016, 04:55 by rúnaí Cill Daingin   [ updated 8 May 2016, 05:09 ]
Kildare Nationalist, 3rd May 2016

THE final game of the weekend could well prove to be the tie of the round.

It's Kildangan's first game in the Junior Championship since the  club reformed in the early part of this century and as fate would have it, they were paired against their local rivals.
Launch of Junior Championship in Osprey 25 April 2016, Bryan Adams Kildangan Captain
Kildangan and Ballykelly have close links at underage, they field an amalgamated side called Abbey Rangers at many grades, but all friendships and working relationships will go out the window for 60 minutes on Sunday.

Most teams eye up a first round championship game for months beforehand but Kildangan have been working towards this moment for many years and are determined now to make the most of it.

"The draw has been very kind to both teams in that it is a tough introduction to junior football for us and I'm sure the same for Ballykelly. We are looking forward to it. We are training hard and are ready for it," said manager John Scanlon, who acknowledge the links between the clubs. "Our full forward, Tom Moran, is very heavily involved with the underage. There would be a fair bit of rivalry, Tom's son actually plays for us as well so that all adds to the rivalry," he said.

Captain Bryan Adams said the fact that Ballykelly are the opponents has added an extra spice to the occasion.

"Everyone in the club has been aiming for junior football. We were eager for the league to get going and now that the Championship is here, once we drew Ballykelly that added an even extra bit of bite to it, it was the draw that everybody wanted. It's a good way to settle into Junior Championship for us. Ballykelly have been there for the last few years and have the experience of it whereas it's new for us. It's something that everybody is looking forward to though," he said.

Now that the team are in the junior ranks, Adams wants to continue the success that they have enjoyed in the lower ranked championships over the last few years. "Since the club reformed some of the young players have started to come through and they are the backbone of our team now. For the likes of them it's important that we keep going up, keep aiming high and to bring through as many of those players to our senior team as we can.

'We need to get that first win to get that duck off our back and allow us to settle into the championship. That would ease the nerves going into the other games. It's a tough start though, it probably suited us to get a derby like this. Lads will soon know how tough the Junior Championship is after Sunday," he said.

Ballykelly have endured a tough time since relegation to junior in 2011 and apart from a run to the quarter-finals in 2013 haven't recorded a Championship win since. The sight of their near rivals should bring out the best of them and like all derbies, the cliché of league form going out the window rings true here.

Verdict: There won't be much between these sides at all but Kildangan's desire to succeed in their first Junior Championship game could see them pick up the win.
Ger McNally.