Junior Championship Final Preview

Belleek and Crossmaglen IIs will contest the 2021 Junior championship decider in an intriguing matchup.

They have been the two most impressive teams so far throughout the championship, although both struggled to come through their semi-final ties.

Crossmaglen were off form in their one-point win against Derrynoose but did enough to eventually get over the line. The impact of super-sub Johnny Hanratty helped to secure the victory along with some other experienced heads.

Experience counts

Paul McKeown is the key man at centre half forward, along with Rico Kelly, Johnny McKeever and Colin O’Connor. Ryan Duffy gave a great defensive display in the semi-final and will need to be on top form once again.

Photo Credit: John Merry

Belleek have plenty of talent up front that they will hope can cause concern for the Rangers rear-guard.

James McParland nailed three important points against Dorsey while Cashel Toner rattled the net after being sprung from the bench.

Drew McVerry and Sean McCreesh are superb threats up front, along McCreesh played a deeper role in their last four victory. McVerry is usually the furthest forward and offers a real goal threat.

The Finnegan’s, Sean, Stephen and Michael are the backbone of the defence, with Stephen captaining the side this season.

They will be without their inspirational Callum O’Neill however following a shoulder injury picked up the last day out.

2020 hurt

The Lawrence O’Toole’s club have the recent championship experience, reaching the final last year.

Forkhill needed a replay and extra time to finally shake off Garreth Thornton’s men. That pain is surely still driving Belleek on.

Photo Credit: Belleek

Cross head in with plenty of confidence and momentum having secured promotion to Intermediate football for 2022 through winning the league. They also have a manager who has been there and done it on the big day.

Gareth O’Neill is used to leading the men in black and amber into county finals. It will be an interesting day for the O’Neill family, as Gareth’s brother Brendan is part of the Belleek management team.

The sides drew in their most recent league meeting, finishing 0-10 to 0-10. As close a tie is expected this weekend and a draw can’t be ruled out.