HomeFootballMasters season returns with strong Ulster representation - Gaelic Life

Masters season returns with strong Ulster representation – Gaelic Life

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By Niall McCoy

THE Masters is back, no not in Augusta, but across the country as 25 football teams go in search of the Mick Loftus Cup.

Ulster representation has always been strong in this growing format with Tyrone winning the last three titles and Donegal the crown before that in 2019 with Covid ruling out the 2020 season.

The province will have an even greater say this time around too with Monaghan – along with Wicklow – signing up. That means Fermanagh are the only Ulster side not competing.

The Red Hands, as usual, will be one of the expected challengers but there are reasons to think that they will be weaker.

Stephen O’Neill will not be about given his Cavan commitments while Sean Cavanagh and Eoin Bradley, who recently captained the Irish Masters team, are not available either.

Eoin’s father Eugene has been a big part of the side’s success in recent times, managing alongside Joe Leonard and Damian Leonard, but he too will be absent.

They begin with a short trip to Donegal on Saturday in what should be a tough opening encounter.

Francis Martin held Tir Chonaill trials back in February and he also has Eddie Crawford of Glenswilly with him on the line. They’ll be hoping to go a bit better than last year when they lost out to London in the Shield semi-final.

Monaghan’s return after an eight-year sabbatical is a positive step and they have pulled players from across the county for the visit of Antrim this weekend, who are managed by Frank Delargy.

Armagh, meanwhile, are under the guidance of Paul Cullen, Seamy Mullen and Pearse Donnelly as they welcome Derry to Pearse Og Park intent on improving on last year’s Spirit Cup final loss to Limerick.

Enda O’Hagan, Jude Donnelly, Declan Mullan and Simon Doherty are over the visiting Oakleafers and, as always, they will have some real talent to call on.

Cavan hosted some of the Ireland and Australia Masters series in Denn, so enthusiasm should be high when they travel to Westmeath while Down make the short trip to face Louth with the two sides drawing in a challenge game last month.

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