By Shaun Casey
BLACKHILL made a brilliant start to the Ulster Championship with an eye-catching first round win but they face a sterner test this weekend against Tyrone side Fintona.
Padraig Finnegan’s men rattled off five goals in their 5-11 to 1-7 win over Antrim champions Rasharkin, but Finnegan insists there’s room for improvement ahead of the semi-final at Kingspan Breffni on Saturday.
“We gave ourselves a good foundation,” said Finnegan of the five goals.
“It’s our biggest scoreline all year and that’s maybe the benefit of going into the Ulster competition.
“Teams don’t really know as much about you and you’re able to maybe express yourself a wee bit more. We didn’t score five goals nearly all year so to get five goals in one game was nice.
“I suppose the game itself was close at the start but we settled and got rid of early nerves, and I think we got into the game well after ten or 15 minutes and we got the ball moving a wee bit quicker.
“Overall, we were happy with the scoreline, but we still weren’t happy with our overall performance.
“There were a lot of areas that, if we want to go any further in this competition, we need to improve on.
“We gave away a lot of silly ball early in the first half, kicked ball away and our passes to the hands weren’t going to the hand. We were losing possession and balls were hitting the ground and not the chest.
“We’ll have to improve that this week. Fintona are a very young and energetic side and they have plenty of pace in their team. If you give them a half chance, they’re going to punish you.”
Monaghan and Tyrone clubs both have decent record in the Ulster Junior Championship and Blackhill, Ulster champions in 2019, know they are in for a real battle.
“Even last year, you look at how well Stewartstown did, and we understand the challenge that is ahead of us the next day out,” added the Blackhill boss.
“It’s going to be as big a challenge as we’ve met all year, and we know that Tyrone junior teams always do well in the Ulster Championship so we’re going to have to be on top of our game if we want to continue in the competition.
“You’ll try and get some information on the opposition and try and have a look at them but that was the benefit of the last game, we just really focused on ourselves, and we wanted to play and setup and express ourselves as best we could.
“It is kind of a benefit to be honest and the boys themselves don’t know who they’re playing. It’s not like club games within their own county where they know exactly who they’re playing and their style and their movement.
“It’s a challenge for the players and management as well but it’s one that we’re all looking forward to.”