It seems like an age since the blue jerseys last took to the field with hurl in hand, but this Sunday sees both the U16s and Seniors playing hosts to Clonduff & Ballyvarley respectively. First to look for a result will be Adrian McNally’s U16 squad when they open their league campaign against Clonduff at 11 o’clock. Backed by the power houses of Ronan Cunningham, Thomas Magee, Peter McCreesh and Eoin Carr, whose eagerly awaited return from injury will surely see a massive boast to the blues, they will surely be looking for two points in the back pocket come dinner time. Cumann Pheadaír Naofa U16s will have some tough matches in the next few Sundays with matches against Carryduff, Ballygalget and Portaferry before the end of the month giving Adrian & assistant Declan Dinsmore plenty of headaches before the championship in June. Adrian & Declan will have last year’s U14 Hurler of the year Tiarnan Murphy and Conan Kelly (winner of most improved award the previous year) to call upon as they step up a grade to U16 this year in what will surely be a tough season ahead. A tough season it may be, but Adrian and Declan will not have overlooked this in their meticulous preparations as they have put the boys through preseason training and made them aware of the step up in class and speed.
Brian Murphy has seen his senior squad boosted by the arrival of fresh talent with the likes of Jack Rafferty, Shane Rooney and Cathal Fagan, who along with Fergal Murphy had outstanding debut seasons last year. Along with the welcome return of Daryl Freer and the return of Shane McKee in goals, Brian and Martin Houlihan will be looking to overturn the Banbridge men. Ballyvarley, who have struggled over the last few years with poor championship performances in Down will hope their excursions in the Antrim league last year will have sharpened their hurling and will fully believe they can out hurl their seaside opponents. The Cumann Pheadaír Naofa seniors have gone through a grueling and intensive pre-season training routine over the last two months, worthy of any Down or Antrim senior team. Although this is just a challenge game, it will give Brian & Marty a good yardstick of where the team are at present with their first fixture just around the corner when they entertain Down & Ulster Junior runners up Ballela in Páirc Liam Uí Ir come Easter Monday, the blues opening fixture in the Ulster Club Tain League. The Warrenpoint men will surely take great confidence in the magnificent eight, Chris, John, Conor, Tom, Oggy, James, Raffo & Mitch who played in the Game of Legends back in November, the experience these guys gained (along with and extended season of training) will surely see Warrenpoint take the favourites tag come throw-in at one o’clock, we wish them all good luck.