Lochside Garage

Coa have Ulster in their sights

Coa have emerged from a tough three match run to reach the junior championship decider.
But for Liam McQuade, member of their management, it has been something of an up and down performance from the squad.
“To a certain extent we would seem to have produced our better performances in those three games when we fielded line-outs that were far from full strength.
“When we had a much stronger side on duty we didn’t do especially well.”
The opener for the O’Dwyer’s was a tussle with Brookeborough and they were down a string of first team players, but still produced the goods.
Next up was a meeting with Aghadrumsee and here they had more or less everyone available, but they slipped to a four point defeat, a late surge not enough to overcome an indifferent first half.
That defeat brought them to last week’s do-or-die pairing with Derrylin and once again they had a raft of players on the sideline, most notably pivotal midfielder Eoin Donnelly, top defenders Luke McQuade and Damian Elliott and attacking play-maker Ryan Hanna.
But Coa shrugged off this handicap and were well worth their four point win.
McQuade says there will be a strong panel to select from for Friday’s final, however with one major absentee.
“Eoin Donnelly will not be in the reckoning and obviously not having a player of his quality on board would be a massive loss to any team, but especially to a side like ourselves.
“There is also a doubt about Ryan Hanna, but we would be hopeful that he will be available”.
Aghadrumsee, McQuade acknowledges, will be a handful for Coa.
“When we played them in the semi-final they looked the hungrier, more determined side without doubt. And they have no shortage of talented players.”
McQuade singled out the excellent contribution delivered by Aghadrumsee’s corner forward Dale Crudden as he gave the O’Dwyer’s defence a torrid time.
“They have top players in a number of positions. Alongside Crudden they also have sharp forwards in Eddie Courtney, Stephen Flynn and Thomas O’Hara and further back they have a solid centre back in Eugene Kearns.”
On the strength of their recent victory over Coa, Aghadrumsee will be viewed as warm favourites, but McQuade was encouraged by the way the side performed against Derrylin
“A big effort put in by everyone and our running game, with Jason Farry and Gary Lynch moving forward was important.
“In the middle of the park we should be able to match Aghadrumsee’s physical presence despite the absence of Eoin Donnelly.”
Coa also have a key operator up front, Cathal Beacom, always an intelligent force on the ball and his flawless place kicking is a real asset.
McQuade underlined Coa’s depth of experience. A significant number of the panel are still on board some 12 seasons after they made the initial junior championship breakthrough.
That experience allied to the fact that they have a side laced with proven personnel will see them go into the decider with real optimism they can return to the provincial arena after a three year absence.

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