Donegal U20s look to claim top spot in group

AS the group stage of the Ulster Under-20 Football Championship comes to a close today (Wednesday), Donegal are looking to secure top spot in their group and a home semi-final.

Shaun Paul Barrett’s side have two wins from two so far after defeating Cavan in Breffni Park before a comfortable win over Fermanagh in MacCumhaill Park in their second match.

And Brendan Kilcoyne, a member of Barrett’s backroom team, has been happy with their progress thus far.


“We played some good football in the first half and Cavan came back at us hard and that was always going to happen at this level, Cavan, Monaghan and Armagh are all very strong at this level, Derry and Tyrone are the two standout teams but most of these sides have something in them but our boys stuck it out.

“We’re happy to get the two wins, we’re far from perfect but it’s a difficult time of year and you’re managing injuries and knocks.

“To get three wins was our aim and we’re two thirds of the way there.”

While they have had two good games so far, this game should be their biggest test yet as Armagh, who also beat the other two teams in the group, come to Ballybofey.

And there is a big prize at stake, with the winner of the match going straight into the semi-finals, while the loser will play third place in the other group to reach the final four.

Donegal have a better points difference so a draw would be enough for the side to top the group, but Kilcoyne is looking for a win for that extra week break and the home advantage.

“Armagh are a good side, I was there the day they beat Fermanagh and they were very impressive, particularly in the first half.


“They have a big, strong and physical team and we know we’ll have to be at our best to get over the line.

“We need to make sure we can play our game and dictate how it goes, we wouldn’t have the physicality of some of the teams we’ve come up against but we have a lot of good footballers.

“We’ve at least qualified for a quarter-final but we want that home semi-final, it’s a big prize on offer and we don’t know who we’ll come up against then but we’re taking it one game at a time and prepare as best we can.”

It has been two weeks exactly between the Fermanagh win and the Armagh game so there has been time to recover, although the side have been unfortunate with injuries so far, most notably with Downings man Callum Cullen and Bundoran’s Ryan Barrett both picking up cruciate injuries.

And there are a few other absentees expected.

“We’ve had two weeks between each game so that has worked well, it has given us time to recover and work on stuff at the weekend. With this age group you have lads away at college and it’s difficult to ask them to travel from Dublin or wherever so it’s good to have the weekends together and get a bit of work done.

“We lost Niall Prendiville (St Naul’s) in the Cavan game, Donal Gallagher (Glenswilly) has been carrying knocks and Callum McCrea (Four Masters) got injured for the Abbey so a lot of our full back line have been carrying knocks and we haven’t had the full complement yet but hopefully we’ll get them back soon.”

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