By Shaun Casey
DEREK Dunne believes his Killeavy team can give the Ulster Junior Championship “a right rattle” if their attitude is right. The south Armagh men take on Cootehill on Sunday at Kingspan Breffni (1.30pm) to open their campaign.
“I think if you have the right attitude and be dogged, because weather plays an awful havoc this time of the year,” said Dunne in his first season in charge of Killeavy.
“The lads are committed, and they’re hard working and all we can do is look after ourselves. We’ll make sure we’re right and we play to the system we want to play at the best of our ability, and we’ll see where that takes us.
“After having a good look at the teams and the structure, we want to give it a right rattle. Cootehill, I don’t think they’ve played a championship game since August, but we can’t treat that as an easy run, but I’d be hoping we can go deep into Ulster.”
Killeavy upset the odds to claim the Armagh Junior crown, overcoming reigning champions Sean Treacy’s with a terrific performance in the decider. The belief and confidence that will give the squad will be huge suggests Dunne.
“I think it was five years since they were in the final and 10 years since they won one, so our underdogs tag was probably well justified,” added the Killeavy boss.
“But with this group of guys, we met last March, and we sat down and put a bit of a plan together.
“It took me four or five league games to get an understanding of the lads and what way we wanted to play. We pushed on and I think probably the two weeks coming up to the championship was probably the best we’ve been all year.
“We did struggle in our semi-final; it was a bad day, and we had a few injuries and that. But winning it was great and a great day for the club.
“I spoke to the Sean Treacy’s manager after the match, and he said he believed he had a team good enough to go on and give Ulster a good rattle and he wished us luck. I do think we’ll improve; I think we’ll get better to be honest.
“I don’t think it was a one-off game. Out of 16 games this year Sean Treacy’s beat us twice by one point and we beat them once so I know we might have been underdogs I think we were deserving winners.
“We had a team meeting last week and had a good chat with the lads. Everybody turned up and everybody is in good form, and we said we’d push on and put our heads down for another month, the guys are well up for it.
“They mightn’t get the opportunity again. They’ll go up to senior next year and it’ll be a fight to stay in senior so it could be three, four, five years before you win a senior championship.”