Saturday evening in the Athletic Grounds will see the coming together of two of Armagh’s finest hurling clubs Na Fianna, Coillidh Chanannáin (county champions) and Cú Chulainn, Ard Mhacha. If previous games are a measure of the intensity, physicality and hurling ability both teams are going to bring to the table, then we are in for a cracker of a game.
Middletown come in as strong favourites after dispensing of Lámh Dhearg, An Céide, in the semi-final after a real lacklustre display. There was only a goal separating the sides at the final whistle, so Middletown will have to improve greatly to overcome a very strong physical Cú Chulainn side. On the other hand, Cú Chulainn’s have came in under the radar with a bye to the final, with only three senior teams in Ard Mhacha.
Cú Chulainn’s will be looking to the experience in their side in the form of county players Connor Devlin, Declan Coulter, Cormac Toner, Conleth Lavery and Ciaran Clifford, whereas Na Fianna will be looking to their own county men Kieran Mc Kernan, David Carvill, Nathan Curry, Cahal Carvill and Ryan Gaffney to name but a few. Saturday’s game will probably highlight the level of hurling Armagh senior hurling team have been performing at this past few years with so many county players on show. Declan coulter will pose Cú Chulainn’s main scoring threat up front whereas Ryan Gaffney will hold the same title for Na Fianna. Na Fianna will be looking to players like Nathan Curry, Pauric Hughes, Tiarnán Nevin and the returning Paul Gaffney at the back to keep the Cú Chulainn’s front six at bay. Na Fianna will also be boosted by the return of Martin Maguire after suspension from last year’s Ulster championship semi-final.
Cú Chulainn’s will come in as the underdog but like two years ago against a very strong An Céide team will be hoping to upset the odds, and with players like Christy Kane and Cailin Gorman in their ranks the Na Fianna side will have their hands full all over the field. All in all, it has the potential to be a cracker of a game so let’s get into the Athletic Grounds and get behind your team.
In the Junior decider at 4pm, Lurgan side and reigning champions, Seán Treacy’s will face Killeavy, who had a one point win over them in the 2014 final. Seán Treacy’s come into the came having crushed a depleted Craobh Rua side, with Danny Magee providing a masterclass of scoring. The Killeavy defence will have their hands full marshalling a forward line which racked up 4-21 last day out. Killeavy though will be buoyed by their super second half performance against Derrynoose to overturn a nine point deficit at the break and earn their place in the decider. They will look to captain Connor Hannaway to maintain his accuracy in front of the posts and spur on his side to a second junior championship in three years. It should be a good day of hurling in the Athletic Grounds, with two games to whet the appetite.