This coming Sunday the Craigavon Cowboys kick off their 2017 season with a road game to the 1-0 Westmeath Minotaurs. A long pre-season of recruitment and training will come to a head as the 'Boys look to get off to a winning start against a Minotaurs team that won their opening game against the Wexford Eagles 19-7. The teams haven't met in a senior competitive fixture before but still know each other well through the Junior League campaigns, both sides having a strong nucleus of young players that they are looking towards to shape their senior squad for years to come. The two senior teams have met before in friendly tournaments with the Cowboys coming out on top both times but in closely contested games, the Cowboys have no doubt this one will be no different with a close fought game expected at Mullingar RFC.
The Minotaurs had a strong running game on display against the Eagles so the Cowboys will be hoping their Defence, led by D Co-Ordinator Jo Buchanan, has enough to stop the them in their tracks, but with Andy Herron at Running Back performing well in Pre-Season the Cowboys will be confident they will have enough of a ground game to worry their hosts. For both sides there will be potential debuts at arguably the most important position in Football, Quarterback. A potential home debut for Minotaurs QB, Joseph Kinahan as he makes the step up from Junior football but there is no doubt the Team Ireland u20 has the talent to be a star at Senior Level. Another debut at QB, this time for the Cowboys, as new signing Josh Marchbanks looks to stamp his mark. The Oregon born signal caller will be hoping he can lead the Cowboys offense with the ground game and passing.
A lot of rookies are set to make their debuts for the Cowboys this Sunday, some really promising players but their first competitive game is always a steep learning curve. Getting that first bit of contact, that first play out of the way will be the first test for rookies and then the confidence can grow from there. Guys like Shayne Mone, Thomas Pollock, Ben Fallon and Carmine Fictola have jumped over every hurdle placed in their way, but their next one will be their biggest one yet.
Sunday marks a big day for the Cowboys, phase 1 in the rebuild. All eyes have been looking on this fixture since they first gained knowledge of Game 1 - Purple v Orange - Minotaurs v Cowboys. #bleedorange