By Shaun Casey
CLONMORE manager Brendan Donaghy says his team are where they want to be as they look forward to a Junior Championship semi-final this Friday night at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds.
The Division 3A league champions take on Ballyhegan, who finished just behind Clonmore in the league and, in many people’s eyes, are the only team that can stop Donaghy’s side from getting their hands on the Sean Quinn Cup in the coming weeks.
“At the start of the year when we were setting out our stall, obviously we had the league first and we wanted to get it wrapped up where it was done and dusted as soon as it could be,” said the former Armagh defender.
“As championship goes, I suppose for most people, myself included, championship is the be all and end all. It’s where we want to be.”
Clonmore breezed past An Port Mor in the quarter-final, with 16 points to spare in the end, but Donaghy insists the contest was much tighter than the 3-14 to 1-4 scoreline suggests.
“It’s always a good sign of a team that whenever they are five or six points down, they don’t stop, and we were very wary of them,” added Donaghy, who retired from inter-county duty at the end of the 2022 season.
“As one sided as it was in the first half, all Port Mor would have needed was a goal and then they would have stepped up.
“To be fair they got their goal, they looked dangerous, and they didn’t stop.
“Full credit to them, we added a few scores at the end then and that probably put a bit of gloss on the actual scoreline to be honest.
“We scored 3-14 and we probably missed a few opportunities as well. We maybe weren’t ruthless enough at times when we had gaps and we pondered on the ball a wee bit too much and the opportunity was lost. But any night you score 3-14, you’re likely to win so I can fault the lads for that.”
Following his retirement from the inter-county scene, Donaghy committed to a player-manager role with his club this season, alongside James Grimley.
However, a knee injury picked up in a league game earlier in the year saw Donaghy sidelined for the rest of the season.
The 2008 Ulster champion would much prefer to be still stuck in the thick of the action, as you’d expect, but for now, Donaghy is happy to play his part for the team from the dugout.
“It’s probably a bit more stressful from the point of view that you can’t have that direct impact on the game itself,” added Donaghy.
“I’d rather be playing any day but it’s just one of those things, at 37 years of age, there’s only so many playing days left.
“Management wouldn’t have been a big calling for myself, but I stepped into those shoes as a player-manager at the start of the year so unfortunately I have to keep on seeing it out.”