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THE BEARDED WONDERS! Gaelic footy team cup tips for Blues.

Byline: by HEATHER SKILLEN

A LIVERPOOL-based Gaelic football team has become the first in Britain to win a place in an Irish championship final - and think their success could be thanks to their beards.

John Mitchels, who train at Green bank Park in Mossley Hill, made history by battling their way through to the finals of the Irish competition.

The team's winning streak began after they started a sponsored beard-growth at the end of last year to raise money for charity, and now they are reluctant to shave them off before the final at Dublin's Croke Park on February 14.

Manager Barry Morris said: "Some of the lads are getting really superstitious now. We'll be playing with beards nearly down to the ground."

The team's success began last November, when they were named British champions, allowing them to enter the Irish finals and compete against the winners of the four Irish provinces. They sailed through the quarter-finals, and then went on to beat Irish team Killala in the semi-finals.

Despite being the only British team ever to beat an Irish team on home ground, Barry is confident that the team will succeed in next weekend's final.

He said: "We know will be the underdogs again but we were underdogs last time and we came out on top. It's a dream come true to play at Croke Park."

He said their success was like Liverpool or Everton getting to Wembley.

The team was founded 100 years ago, and after being briefly disbanded in 2003 due to falling numbers, was reformed in 2006.

John Mitchels is hoping to promote the sport to young people, and have been coaching weekly sessions in schools across Merseyside.

Barry said: "We have had a very good response so far."

news@liverpoolecho.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

CHARM: Danny McDonagh and Daryl McConnell, from John Mitchell Gaelic Football Team, with their beards; CHEEKY: What Fellaini might look like with a beard
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 6, 2009
Words:323
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