13th March – 1st April 2016: 1.00pm–7.00pm
Fr Lynch Park
A new pre-season tournament featuring four top clubs from Down, Monaghan and Armagh will place in Father Lynch Park, Ballyholland in and around the Easter period.
The tournament is the brainchild of Ballyholland manager Steven Poacher, and along with his selectors Francie Poland and John Barry, he will be using the high-quality competition to help seed a solid team shape and structure for the incoming season.
The format of the competition is each team meets two others, with the two highest finishers making the final.
As the host club, Ballyholland will be hopeful that home advantage should prove a trump card. Star midfielder Joe Murphy is likely to be busy with the Down senior team, placing a greater emphasis on Down club player of the year Robbie White, under-21 star Tiarnan Rushe, and scoring machine Patrick Quinn to lead a team that enjoys a nice combination of vast experience and youthful legs.
Maghery Sean McDermotts, with Lurgan man Shane McConville at the helm, have over the past decade risen through the ranks to re-assume a position as one of the leading clubs in Armagh, indeed winning the Armagh Football League in both 2013 and 2014. With Aiden and Stefan Forker likely to be on Armagh duty, it’s expected that former county players Seamus Forker, Paul Forker and James Lavery will lead their charge,
There is a bit of history between Ballyholland and Maghery Sean McDermotts, with the Loughshore men taking the honours when they met in the first round of the Ulster Intermediate Championship back in 2003. Some 12 and a half years years on, Ballyholland’s older brigade of Damian McCrink, Paul Murphy and Ronan Murtagh will find an opportunity to gain some small revenge.
Bryansford are one of the most decorated clubs in Down, and now are under the charge of club legend and All-Ireland winning full-back Brian Burns. As with most Bryansford managers in recent memory, he is somewhat spoiled for choice when it comes to talent, and the challenge is finding a way to put it all together in some form that can see them overtake Burren and Kilcoo in Championship stakes. Conor Maginn and Luke Howard should be away on county duty, but with the likes of Danny Savage, David McKibbin, Kallum King and Chris Clarke to call upon, the current Down Football League Champions will be a match for anyone.
Castleblayney Faughs fill up the quartet, and like Bryansford, can call upon both a great history and wealth of talent. Actually, with 37 senior club titles and a couple of Ulster Championships, they’ve more history than most clubs put together. Former Railway Cup player Declan Loughman steers their ship along with former Armagh player Alan O’Neill, and may be able to call upon Monaghan stars Brendan McElroy and Dermot Malone to bolster a young team backboned by Ciaran Hanratty, Patrick Tavey and Martin McElroy.
With two double-headers for spectators to enjoy, it’s all set for an intriguing tournament.
Sunday 13 March
- 1.00pm: Ballyholland v Maghery (Paul Fallon)
- 2.30pm: Bryansford v Castleblayney (Brendan Rice)
Sunday 20 March
- 1.00pm: Bryansford v Maghery (Declan Ryan)
- 2.30pm: Ballyholland v Castleblayney (Brendan Rice)
Friday 1 April
- 7.00pm: The final
Published by Anthony McNamee on 2nd March 2016.