AGHADERG’S place in the Junior Football Championship final is a just reward for the team’s hard work this year.
That’s according to their manager, Noel Sexton, who leads his troops into battle against unbeaten and much fancied Dundrum this Sunday at Esler Park (4pm).
The final presents the Reds with an opportunity to win their first Junior Championship and reach the All-Ireland Junior Championships - but Sexton acknowledges there is a lot of hard work still to be done to make the dream a reality.
“It unquestionably a great achievement by our players and already I’m proud of what they have done,” said Sexton, who has led them to the final in his first season.
“We haven’t had the best season in the league but we have worked very hard in the Championship and to reach the final is a great reward.
“A lot of the credit has to go to our team trainer Peter McHugh, who has done a great job of putting the players through their paces.”
Aghaderg ran their final opponents close back in July, losing 0-9 to 1-3, but they hope to put that right on this occasion.
“If we put in the same effort we did that day we will run them very close,” Sexton added.
“Dundrum are the favourites and probably rightly so, they are unbeaten all year. They have a gem of a player in Paul McComiskey, the Down senior player who scored two points in the All-Ireland final in 2010.
“But we have a number of key players too. If we get the likes of Aaron McAvoy, Michael Fitzpatrick, Paul O’Neill and our captain, Paul McGivern, on form we will have a great chance of bringing the trophy home.
“If we want to win it we have to beat them - it’s going to come down to who wants it more on the day.”
The Reds will be without injured centre half forward James McGrath, who has a broken bone in his hand but who is also on holidays.
“James will be a big loss for us on and off the park and we will be determined to do it for him,” the manager said. “But other than that we will have a clean bill of health.”
He added, “We have had a great support throughout the parish, from the ordinary man on the street to our sponsors and I want to thank them all for that. Both teams in the final wear red but hopefully at Esler Park we will see a sea of Aghaderg red there to cheer us on.”
- MEANWHILE Clann na Derg Minors beat St John Bosco from Newry on Sunday in the Down Minor B Championship. We have pictures from the match on P49.