Dunleer and Tullyallen prepare for Sunday’s Junior Final clash

From one end of Main Street in Dunleer to the other end the flags are flying and that modern use of abbreviations - COYBIB in this case - is inscribed everywhere (Come On You Boys In Blue - for those not in the know).

From one end of Main Street in Dunleer to the other end the flags are flying and that modern use of abbreviations - COYBIB in this case - is inscribed everywhere (Come On You Boys In Blue - for those not in the know).

With three county finals under their belts in the last thirty years Lannleire have a real hunger to add to that tally. But they’ve had their heartaches along the way.

And manager Nicky Malone knows a thing or two about county finals.

He donned the blue and white the last time Lannleire made it to a County final back in 1998.

At that time the Dunleer men were in the senior championship.

They were beaten that day at next Sunday’s venue, The Grove, by a Peter Fitzpatrick managed Clan Na Gael.

Yet memories of that defeat will not haunt Malone.

“We failed to turn up that day,” explained Malone. “Only about three lads put in a performance and we had inter county footballers on the panel that year as well.

“It’s how you approach a final and conduct yourself that matters the most.”

Last Silverware

Before that senior final it was back in 1994 when Lannleire last savoured some silverware.

Their old foes John Mitchels were the opposition that year in the intermediate final, just as they were back in 1985 when the Blue and White won the Christy Bellew cup.

However this year Glen Emmets present a different challenge, having overcome the favourites Oliver Plunketts in the semi finals.

“The Glens will be some peoples favourites for the final, but I don’t believe in the underdogs tag either. They bet us earlier in the group stages, but we did draw with them in the league,” Malone countered.

Yet just four year ago Lannleire were at this same juncture. They were in the junior final against St Nicholas, but again they came up short.

But Lannleire man Aidan King believes this young team is ready to make the step up to intermediate level this time though.

“I believe they are ready. They are a good young team and maybe the underdogs tag will suit us this time.”

Although the men from Tullyallen have been impressive in the championship this year, if Nicky Malone and his selectors were to look at a game for any hint of weakness it would be the opening round match against Annaghminnon Rovers in Ardee.

Weakness

Brian Lynch’s Glen Emmets side, who were defeated by St Fechin in last year’s final, may have overcome Rovers in the end, but it wasn’t before the whipping boys of Louth football had put up solid resistance for two thirds of the match.

“It’s all about the final fifteen minutes for us. The fitness levels are vital,” the Lannleire manager stated.

“Glen Emmets have a very big and imposing team. We’re smaller than them so our fitness and our pace will be a big thing for us.”

Route to the Final

The Dunleer men were much quicker out of the blocks this year. They blew away Stabannon by a fifteen point margin on day one and did something similar against Annaghminnon, with Paul Callan and Niall Lennon gobbling up the scores.

In the quarter finals they showed their true title credentials by knocking out the much fancied Hunterstown Rovers and Malone will take great confidence from that win.

“The match against Hunterstown was a big one, they were the favourites and we put in a big game that day.”

Paul Callan was once again on form for Malone’s side.

The semi final against Sean McDermotts saw Shane Kennedy score 2-1 in another match which the Blue and White dominated for large sections.

“Every player has to know their boundaries. They need to know what they are capable of and then it’s a case of using that to your advantage.”

Glens Challenge

Having seen off the favourites Oliver Plunketts in the semi final, Glen Emmets are sure to enter the final with their tails up.

But Glens Club captain Stephen Healy is still cautious heading into Sunday’s game.

“There was so much hurt after the loss in last year’s final against St Fechins”, revealed Healy.

“This year we said that we must take every game as if it could be our last and we didn’t want to come off the field feeling like we did last year.”

Healy believes that the trauma from the Fechins game has created more hunger within the Tullyallen side.

“After the win over Plunketts in the semi finals, it was a great feeling. But you could see that nobody left anything on the field.

“You couldn’t take anything away from any of our lads, they threw themselves into every tackle that day.”

Healy revealed that the build up has been more subdued in Tullyallen this year after last year’s defeat, but the Red and Green is still flying proudly around the village.

“Nobody is taking anything for granted, we’re all just keeping our heads down, working hard and pushing for places.”

With two very close games against Lannleire already this year, Healy is under no illusions about the threat the Dunleer men pose.

“There’s never much between us. We had some great battles with them over the years and I’m sure Sunday will be no different.

“But it’s time to work our socks off and bring Christy back to Tullyallen,” finished Healy.