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Clunduff and Ballycran battle for Senior Championship


This Sunday Down County Board will host the Senior Championship Final between Clunduff and Ballycran in Castlewellan at 2.45pm.  This year’s final is a repeat of last year’s epic which after a tantalising game ended up in a reply.  On that occasion Ballycran came out victorious ending a 40 year gap to be crowned County Champions and in the process dethroning Clunduff who had won the title for the very first time the previous year.

This sets up this year’s final as a mouth-watering  encounter.  Both teams are desperate to win back the title which eluded them for so long and both teams have the potential and players to do so.

Clunduff boast Fionnuala Carr in their ranks, possibly the best center half back in Ulster.  Her battle with the equally talented Catherine McGourty will go a long way to determining which team comes out on top.  Whether McGourty plays in the half forward position or sweeps in front of her own half back line, as she done last year, will also impact on how the game is played.   Equally important will be Carrs distribution of the ball.  Her ability to pick out players, none more so than her sister Sara Louise in the full forward line, will have a massive impact on the game. 

All does not hinge on these few players however.  Ballycran club has an abundance of players any of which can be a match winner on their day.  Nicola Branniff, this year’s top goal scorer for the county seniors has the potential to give any back a hard day at the office.  She has lightening speed and trickery on the ball.  Jennifer McHugh has also returned to the black and amber in recent weeks.  Her hard work around the middle of the park complemented by Naomi Morgan will be a tough partnership to crack.  In defence Audrey Kelly, Sabarina McCullagh and Emma Keith are all excellent and with their captain playing between the sticks their defence will be extremely hard to penetrate.

Not to be outdone Clunduff has their own host of talent.  Karen Gribben has returned to the team and looks as sharp as ever.  Her ability to win ball in the air will be invaluable to Clunduff as will the contribution of her sister Paula.  Possible one of the most tenacious young players in the county, Paula is likely to stand up and take responsibility just when her team needs her.      Orla Maginn also is a wonderful player for her club.  Her tireless running will keep her opponent busy.  Finally Sara Louise Carr is a match winner in any team.   No doubt she will be causing the Ballycran management headaches pre match.   Given the right kind of ball, Sara Louise is unstoppable.

The outcome of this game is much too close to call.  The teams are quite evenly balanced and one would think the winner will be the team that wants it more.   If the Clunduff backs can withstand the threat of McGourty and Nicloa Branniff then they certainly have the scoring ability up front to do damage.  The hurt of loosing last year’s final may be enough to see them past the post this time and take the title back to Hilltown to add to the league title they won earlier in the month.   However Ballycran also feel that they have unfinished business given that they were unable to make an impact at Ulster level last year.

So on paper we are in for a thriller.   This should be a hard fought game between two teams both desperate to get their hands on the County Championship title. 

In the preceeding game Newry Shamrocks will take on Ballygalget at 1 o’clock.  Not a lot is known about either team however ballyglager are an up and coming force in Down camogie.  Having been reformed a few years ago Ballygalget continue to grow from strength to strength and no doubt we can expect big thinks from them in the coming years.  Newry on the other hand under the guidance of Collette Lambe have struggled up to this year.  They have however performed out of their skins this year and it would be a wonderful tribute to Collette for this team to go all the way any bring some silverware to Newry.


Camogie supporters are in for a great day’s camogie and entertainment in Castlewellan next Sunday.   All camogs are urged to come along and support the teams.

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