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Donegal Under 17s chasing Celtic Challenge glory

Donegal Under 17 hurling team

Donegal hurling has already recorded one impressive victory this week, and they are hoping to pick up another on Saturday in Bord na Móna Park, Tullamore.

Mickey McCann’s senior team won the Nicky Rackard Cup in Croke Park last Saturday, and now the Donegal Under 17 team are chasing glory as well.

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They take on Sligo in the Celtic Challenge Cup Final in Tullamore this weekend, and Daithi Roberts’ team are gunning for glory.

They have been training hard since April, and Roberts says they have improved as the season has progressed.

“There was a group stage first and we lost to Sligo, Roscommon, and Galway Tribesmen and we beat Mayo.

“We had to play a Preliminary Round game against Longford to get into the quarter-final, and then we beat Leitrim.

“That put is into the semi-final and we got the better of Fermanagh in that last week.

“We were disappointing that we lost to Sligo, but it gave us a bit of a wake-up call. Without making excuses, we felt we hadn’t done a lot of training then.

“We hope we will be better prepared for them this time.”

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It may seem bizarre to hold a final between Donegal and Sligo in Offaly, but there is some logic to the decision.

There are five finals in total in the Celtic Challenge, and they are all taking place in Tullamore, with Roberts’ team competing for the Corn Michael Feery.

They were originally fixed to play the game at 12.30, but the organisers have pushed the time back to accommodate the two counties from the North West.

“It was decided at the start of the year that all the Celtic Challenge Finals would be played in Tullamore and there are five in total.

“They have put ours on at 17.40, so that gives us plenty of time to travel up and get ready for the match.”

A lot of effort is being put into the development of hurling in Donegal, and the Under 17 manager says the victory for the seniors last week is a real boost.

Roberts, along with his backroom team of Eunan O’Donnell, Davy Buckley, and Declan Sherlock, have worked hard with this group, and have overseen a lot of progress during the past 12 months.

“The seniors had a great win last week, and there is a lot of good work going on.

“Last year, Donegal won the Peter O’Keefe Cup, and 13 boys that started in that game are still playing for us.

“That’s very important for our development, and they have worked very hard and are committed.

“We feel we have improved a lot since we played Sligo in our first match and we will see how much we have this week.”

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