BY CHRIS MCNULTY
SEAN MacCumhaills will tonight hope to become the second Donegal club to book a place in an Ulster club league final as they face Strabane Sigersons in a semi-final in Ballybofey (throw-in 8pm).
Killybegs booked their place in the senior decider thanks to a win over Castleblaney last Saturday and Pat McNabb’s men are hoping to follow suit tonight.
The Twin Towns brigade have lost the services of former Donegal player Paddy McNulty, who has transferred to a club in Dublin while current Donegal player Martin O’Reilly will be unavailable due to county commitments.
But after an impressive Group C campaign that yielded wins over Ogra Colmcille, Na Clairsigh, Stewartstown and Bredagh – they lost their last game against Lamh Dhearg – the Finnsiders are aiming to continue their good early season form a couple of weeks out from the start of the All-County League. Strabane, for their part, won five out of five in Group B, including a 0-11 to 0-7 win over Donegal side Naomh Brid.
Darren O’Leary continues to miss out through a knee injury and Brian ‘Barney’ Lafferty is struggling with a hamstring complaint.
Chris Patton will line out in goal in the absence of brother Rory, though new recruit Mark O’Sullivan, a Garda from Galway, is also out after hurting his shoulder in a challenge last week.
However, MacCumhaills have been boosted recently with the return of Steven O’Reilly while former dual player Paddy Hannigan has committed to football for the year.
In the absence of the departed McNulty, Hannigan is a more than adequate fill to the centre field gap.
“Paddy is a big loss for us, not just from a football point of view, but from the experience he brings,” he said.
“Paddy Hannigan is a great man to have back though and he has been in good form for us lately.
“The Ulster League has been good to us as we have been have been trying out some younger lads and also giving games to players like Benny (McLaughlin) who missed a lot of last season.”
Minors from last year like O’Reilly, Andrew McCloskey, Gavin Gallagher and Rory Dunleavy have been joined this year by the likes of Owen Wright and Stephen Mulligan, who haven’t looked out of place.
With the start of the All-County League on the horizon, McNabb believes an Ulster final place would really benefit his men.
He said: “It would be another competitive game for us and this is a great standard of football too, there are some excellent teams in it.”
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