Winners of the Harte Cup in 2005 and 2009 but who suffered the disappointment of defeat against Northern Gaels in last year’s title decider, Killoe are back in the Minor ‘A’ Football Championship Final and are fancied to get the better of St. Vincent’s (Drumlish/Ballinamuck) in the clash of the neighbouring rivals at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday next.
Having said that, St. Vincent’s sprang a surprise to knock out Northern Gaels in the semi-final with second half substitute Dean Cosgrave exerting a major influence on the eventual outcome. Cosgrave had been unavailable to the local GAA club for some time due to his soccer commitments with Longford Town (the Drumlish lad currently plays with the U-19 side) but certainly came back with a bang.
Cosgrave scored two late goals to clinch a final spot for St. Vincent’s and Dean is very much the dangerman for the underdogs with the expectation that the talented forward will play from the start against Killoe. Gary Connell and Emmet Noonan, members of the county minor squad this year, also have the ability to make a big impact on Sunday while another key figure on the Drumlish/Ballinamuck side is their accurate free-taker Martin Cassidy.
Defenders Daniel Gorman, Mike Kiernan, Paul Hughes and Gavin Quinn along with midfielder Mark Breslin are other prominent members of the St. Vincent’s team who will be quietly confident of causing an upset in the quest to regain the Harte Cup, a coveted trophy that was won in the recent past by the north Longford club in 2007 and 2010
Although Killoe were held to a draw by St. Vincent’s in the opening round of the current minor championship and ended up level on points in the group stage, the Young Emmets powered their way to a most comprehensive 4-11 to 1-6 win in the subsequent play-off for the top spot but in both those games a notable absentee was St. Vincent’s ace Dean Cosgrave.
Killoe went on to beat the Minor ‘B’ champions Colmcille in the semi-final and will be extremely hard beaten in the battle for the ‘A’ county title. On the basis of their significant back-to-back U-16 ‘A’ Championship triumphs in 2010 and 2011, the formbook suggests yet another under-age success for Killoe in the Minor Final on Sunday.
Killoe also contested the U-16 ‘A’ title decider in 2009, losing out to Northern Gaels, and a strong minor squad has now developed with high hopes of bringing the Harte Cup back to the parish. Backboned by Longford minors Cian Farrelly (who could also feature at some stage of the senior final), Shane Clarke, Larry Moran and Paddy Kiernan, all of whom started in the Leinster quarter- final clash earlier this year against the eventual All-Ireland champions Dublin, the favourites tag in the county U-18 final rests firmly with Killoe.
And when you also take into account that three more Killoe players were members of the Longford U-16 squad that won the Fr. Manning Cup Tournament this year, notably Darragh Gilna (the captain), Jamie King and Ciaran Donohoe, the odds would appear to be stacked against St. Vincent’s winning the county minor title.
With other useful footballers in Damien Bennett, John Lynch, Brian Finnerty and Seamus McCormack, the Killoe minors are given the vote to emerge victorious in a repeat of the 2009 county final in this grade which they won by beating St. Vincent’s 2-14 to 0-11.
A much closer contest is probably in prospect on this occasion and a very interesting statistic since 2007 is that the runners-up in the minor championship have gone on to capture the Harte Cup the following year – a remarkable trend which looks set to continue in the curtain-raiser on Sunday next.
It is a massive occasion for the Killoe parish with both the senior and minor teams in county final action on the same day and should the club succeed in completing the double it would be a tremendous achievement, to say the least.
PREDICTION: Killoe Og