Morgan Fuels Down SHC semi-final
Ballycran v Bredagh (Ballycran, Sunday, 5pm)
BREDAGH’S hurling joint-manager Danny Hughes believes his side is raring to go ahead of a historic first Senior Championship semi-final for the club against Ballycran at the weekend.

Group wins against Newry and Ballygalget saw the South Belfast side progress to the semi-final, where they will face the toughest possible test against holders Ballycran.

Hughes, however, isn’t fearful of the task which lies ahead, but is excited at the opportunity which has been handed to his players to keep on making club history.

“It’s exciting times for Bredagh hurling, playing in our first Senior Championship semi-final,” he said.

“This is our third year competing at this level and with wins against Newry Shamrocks and Ballygalget in the group stages, we are now just one game away from the final.

“Standing in our way are holders Ballycran, who we lost to in the group game and with them having home advantage it is a massive challenge, but one which we will relish.

“We had a great win in our last group game against Ballygalget and that result and particularly the performance gives us a confidence boost going into the Ballycran game.”

An interesting subplot to the game is Hughes’ own connection with the opposition.
He is a Ballycran native and won numerous Down Championships with his home club.

His two sons play under him at Bredagh, whilst his two nephews will line out for Ballycran, ensuring it will be a memorable day for the family irrespective of the result.

“I myself hail from Ballycran, they are my old club with whom I won seven Down hurling titles,” he explained.

“I have two sons playing on the Bredagh team, Donal and Sean and they will be going head to head against their cousins Michael and Gerard Hughes on the Ballycran team, so it will certainly be interesting.”

Hughes is also under no illusion as to how difficult a task it will be to overcome his home town side, particularly after their loss against Ballycran in the group stages of the competition.

“Ballycran will be strong opponents having made the Ulster final last year, when they put in a fine performance before going down to Slaughneil,” he outlined.

“They have seasoned campaigners in Sean Ennis, Conor Woods and the Nicolson brothers as well as fresh young talent in the likes of Phelim Savage and Stuart Martin.

“In the group game a couple of weeks ago we matched them for most of the game but they finished strongly to win by 13 points.

“I would be hopeful that we can keep the intensity going for the full 60 minutes in the semi final and that the result will be a lot closer.”

Hurling at the South Belfast club is thriving at all levels, with Bredagh’s minor side having won a second minor crown for the club when defeating Ballygalget 2-16 to 1-9 at the weekend to add to their 2018 triumph.

“There are players from the 2018 final now playing on the senior teams of both Bredagh and Ballycran and our seniors will certainly take inspiration from the achievements of this year’s minors,” he said.

Hughes concluded that reaching the final would be hugely significant for Bredagh and hurling in South Belfast as a whole.

“It would be an incredible achievement and a real boost for hurling in South Belfast and more generally outside the hurling stronghold of the Ards Peninsula.”