Friday, 23 September 2011

Derry SFC Semi Finals

I didn’t attend last year’s county final, after our defeat at the hands of Ballinderry I had very little interest in the championship.  Football affects you that way.  I will probably find it hit hard watching Kilrea this Sunday wondering how the Emmet’s would fare against the Loup.
On county final day last year, I was visiting relatives for Sunday dinner (can’t beat getting one made for you) and my phone was hot with updates from Celtic Park.  Coleraine had beaten us fairly and squarely after a replay, but I still fancied Ballinderry to beat them.  I figured that in the wide open spaces of Celtic Park, The Shamrocks would ‘out-football’ Coleraine.  What did I know?
The one thing I hadn’t factored into my prediction was that Declan Mullan would be unmarkable.  He had not really set the championship alight. However, it was now the biggest occasion of the season and this was Deccy’s stage after all.  I should’ve known better.  He relishes the big days.
One snippet I will always remember, was some video footage (below) from a minor league game, when assisted by Cailean O’Boyle they completed their version of ‘The Real Hustle’ on the Antrim defence.  This was just one of his many talents, a bubbly character, can comfortably use both feet with tremendous speed and athleticism.

On his return from the Kilmacud Sevens, he gave us his take on this weekend’s Derry SFC semi-finals.
Sunday 25th September (Celtic Park @ )
Loup v Kilrea - This will be a tough one to call I have to say.  We haven’t played Kilrea this year but they are going well with some great results.
The Loup on the other hand played the defensive game.  They have carried it out successfully and will probably stick to it against Kilrea. It’s very difficult to play against.  Forwards get smothered, there is little space to operate in and scoring is limited.
If the match was played in Magherafelt on a wet, windy day, Loup would win.  On the other hand, in Celtic Park if Kilrea can match the Loup’s intensity and workrate they should come out on top. 
They will have to reduce the influence of the Kielts and keep an eye on Paddy McNeill who is lively up front for them.  Verdict: Kilrea by 3
Sunday 25th September (Celtic Park @ )
Ballinderry V Dungiven – This should also be a close game.  It has the makings of a good game of open and fast flowing football. Dungiven are a good side with quality players all over the pitch but so have Ballinderry.  Dungiven have also blended plenty of youth into their side.
It’s always hard to look past Ballinderry.  Every year they are in the shake-up.  The advantage is the players and tradition they have. I feel it will be a very close encounter but I think Ballinderry’s greater firepower will be too much for Dungiven.  Also, ‘Big Enda’ will be man of the match, by a country mile. 
Verdict Ballinderry by 2

I'm sure Declan would rather be playing this Sunday, but thanks to him for giving his comments.

Both games available via Twitter @malmcmullan

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