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Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship Continues To Light Up May

Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship Continues To Light Up May
By Ste McGovern

April is not typically known for being a great month for football, but this year's Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship might be changing all that. We've had some cracking goals, classic encounters and a goalkeeper scoring from play! On top of this the competitiveness of this year's competition can be seen in the number of games that have gone to extra-time already.

We had another two this week to match last week's amount, including a mammoth tie between Cavan and Derry that ended up going to extra-time not once, but twice. Unbelievable stuff.

Meanwhile Electric Ireland's reigning Minor Footballer of the Week was at it again. Kyle Shelly followed his spectacular performance against Limerick with a brilliant goal against Waterford this week. You could call this shot a bit speculative.

Three more players put their hands up for the Player of the Week Award with their displays, here they are:

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Mark Hayes - Tyrone

If anyone thought this was going to be a tight affair before throw-in, they were wrong as Tyrone steamrolled Donegal 5-12 to 1-10.

To be fair, the home side had beaten their rivals by a point when they met in the league and they were well in the game in the first half. With a quarter of the tie gone both sides were neck and neck, until Mark Hayes scored a lovely goal for the Red Hand. Shane O'Donnell would help Donegal get back into it with a goal of his own, leaving them only a point behind going into the interval.

That would have been the case had they not fallen asleep and let Tarlach Quinn find the net before Hayes pointed to leave the score at 2-7 to 1-5 heading into the break.

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Tyrone used that gap as a platform for complete second-half domination, with Mark Hayes getting another goal in a superb all-round performance. Finishing the game with a tally of 2-4, nobody in the Ulster MFC will be looking forward to a meeting Hayes and this fiery attack in the next round.

As for Donegal, they will need to get their act together in the qualifiers before they become the Forgotten County of the Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship.

Sheelan Johnston - Down

There would be no repeat of Armagh and Down's classic meeting in 2011, when the Orchard County ran out 3-11 to 5-4 winners in a pulsating game of football. This was a rather more sedate, but nonetheless hard-fought encounter between the two sides.

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The Irish News described Sheelan Johnston's performance as "deadly" and he needed to be to see off a tricky and stubborn Armagh team who refused to go away easily. Indeed any day that you get over half of your side's scores is a pretty good day.

The manner of some of those scores was a joy to behold, one of which was an incredible shot from the byline on the far right of the pitch. His three points were the difference heading into half-time.

Armagh scored straight from the restart, but bizarrely another 28 minutes went by before they added to that, tying up the game with a further two points while Down went the entire 30 minute period without a score.

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Sheelan Johnston rectified that quickly with the first score of extra-time, using his pace to beat a defense that was at sixes and sevens, and followed it up with a very nice point from long range. He would then wrap the game up with the final score of the evening, making it 0-11 to 0-08.

The Mourne boys needed someone to stand up and take control of the contest and that person was Sheelan Johnston. It wasn't just his tally of 0-6 that won this game for Down, but his guile and leadership too.

Gavin Meagher - Tipperary

It wasn't a vintage display from Tipperary, but it was enough to keep their season on track ahead of a crunch semi-final meeting with Clare on May 8.

The Premier County were wasteful in attack, hitting 14 wides compared to Waterford's four, although one could optimistically say they are at least creating chances in the first place. Either way, this was a win built off the back of their defenders.

Gavin Meagher was at the centre of a rock-solid defense who were able to keep the Deise at bay in their second play-off of the Munster MFC. The Irish Examiner wrote that the Inane Rovers youngster put in a "spirited display".

Although these players are only teenagers, it's amazing to see how well they can command a game and lead their teammate's to victory. While Meagher did not get on the score sheet, his influence was keenly felt in a game that could have gone Waterford's way.

Tougher offences will test the Tipp boys, but Meagher will be there waiting and hoping for a crack at the provincial title.

The next round of fixtures should bring with it more superb matches, especially as Cork and Kerry face each other in the semi-final of the Munster MFC in the next phase of their quest for the Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship

Have your say and cast your vote for the player of the week nominees on Electric Ireland's Facebook page by clicking here. All nominated players will be in with a chance of making overall team/player of the year at the 2018 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards.

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