BY CHRIS MCNULTY
AFTER winning their first-ever game at Ulster level two weeks ago, Urris head for Dungannon on Sunday with the carrot of an Ulster final dangling before them.
The Donegal junior champions face their Armagh counterparts from Keady (throw-in 12.30pm) and Urris boss Danny Kelly says his side is aiming to make the province take note.
Two goals, one in each half, by Peter Devlin gave Urris a 2-6 to 0-9 win over Cavan side Arva at Breffni Park in their quarter-final. Urris, defeated Naomh Ultan in the Donegal JFC final, as Jason Doherty and Mark McLaughlin goaled in a 2-9 to 0-8 win.
Now, Urris stand an hour away from a place in the Ulster Junior final. Only Naomh Bríd – who lost against Greencastle in the 2006 final – have got past the semi-final stage in the Ulster JFC from Donegal.
Manager Kelly is aiming to put Urris on the map.
“We said in the dressing room in Cavan before we played Arva that these teams and these people might never have heard of us before, but by the time we leave they’d know all about Urris,” Kelly said.
“This is our first time in Ulster so it’s all new to us. It would mean everything to lead Urris into an Ulster final, but we know we’ll be in for a tough game against Keady.
“Confidence is high and we have been on good form in the Championship so far. We’re going to Dungannon on Sunday to win the game. We’re not going to have a look around us – we’ll be going all out to win the game.
“This is one of the biggest days in the history of the Urris club.”
Urris have no injury concerns and Eddie Kelly will again fly in from London on Saturday to line out at centrefield. Kelly was a member of the Donegal senior panel during John Joe Doherty’s reign as manager and is a pivotal player for the Inishowen club.
Youngsters like Gary Doherty, Danny Devlin, Kevin McLaughlin and Conor Bradley have stepped up to stem the flow of emigration from Clonmany that sees the club without several of its best players, the likes of Rockie Ivors, Simon Friel and Brian Kelly all on foreign climbs these days.
But Urris have a deep-rooted spirit and Kelly’s men had to call on all their might to come from the brink against Arva.
“We were six points down at one stage,” Kelly pointed out.
“We got them in at half-time and told them that they were still in with a chance. There was a strong wind at our backs for the second half and Peter got the second goal to get us back into it.”
McLaughlin is the Urris scorer-in-chief and will again be the man Urris will look to for their inspiration. McLaughlin was a goalkeeper with the Donegal Under-21s this year having been on the books of Derry City previously, but with Urris he does his work at the other end of the park.
Kelly gathered his players at the start of the summer to assess the mood. He found a squad supremely confident in where it was headed.
He said: “One of the lads said at the start of the Championship about how great it would be to get a run in Ulster. We put him in order back then – we had to think about winning the Donegal Junior Championship first and foremost.
“We did that and then we just said we’d go and give it a rattle in Ulster. We don’t know a lot about these teams, but I’m sure it’s the same for them going to play us. We’re aiming to win it now and we’ll go looking to empty the tank on Sunday.”
The Urris manager has blasted the decision to stage the game in Dungannon. The Urris-Keady clash is the curtain-raiser to the Intermediate semi-final between Cloughaneely and Warrenpoint. From Clonmany to Dungannon is a round trip of 270 kilometres.
Kelly said: “They have done us no favours with the venue, that’s for sure. We have a two-and-a-half-hour journey to get to the game whereas Keady are half-an-hour away. That’s hardly fair, is it?
“We’ll have to leave Clonmany at half past eight in the morning. It’s an awful inconvenience for our supporters who have followed the team in such big numbers all year. There obviously wasn’t much consideration here with the venue.”
Their opponents, Keady, won the Armagh Junior title as Stephen Reneghan and Ryan McGale scored the goals in a 2-10 to 0-6 win over Collegeland. They followed that up with a 3-8 to 3-4 win over Drumhowan in the Ulster quarter-final.
Keady captain Joby Burke believes that the fearlessness of youth gives the Michael Dwyer’s a good shot in Sunday’s game. The emerging stars of the clu has given the elder statesment like Burke plenty of optimism.
“They have plenty of skill about them, they have plenty of potential,” said Burke
“The boys have no worries and they are just fearless, they go at it hell for leather.
“We’re like any other club, we’ve lost players through retirements and fellas going to different countries and things like that, but we’ve had a couple of good underage sides. From the u-21 match [v St Peter’s] there’s a few fellas who staked a claim for a starting place this weekend.
“Some of them played very well and that’s good for keeping momentum going into the match with Urris. The younger fellas love playing games and the more games for them the better.”
Keady’s panel includes corner-backs Mattie Green and Shane Mone who won an All-Ireland minor title with Armagh in 2009.