By Michael McMullan
FINDING the balance between the buzz and focus is the challenge for Drumlane this week ahead of their Ulster final, insisted manager Martin Dunne.
The Cavan champions take on Stewartstown on Saturday in Clones, their third trip to the home of Ulster football in as many games.
After narrow wins over Arva, Craigbane and Clones, Drumlane had some breathing space against Newtownbutler in Sunday’s semi-final.
“There were great scenes when the whistle went the relief that we got over the line. To be in an Ulster Club final is absolutely massive for a small club like Drumlane,” hailed the former Breffni star.
“The whole parish has gone football mad down there and it is great to see.
“The chairman was telling me there were people from the parish at their first game in 30 years the other day in Clones. Everyone is rowing in behind the lads and it’s fantastic at the moment.”
In the immediate aftermath of booking their final berth, Dunne encouraged his side to bask in the special winning feeling before Monday marked the start of their preparations for the next step of an eventful season.
“That’s why you turn up for training, day in and day out, for days like that. They don’t come around too often, so you have to make the most of it,” he said.
With just five days to get his troops tuned in for this weekend, the Drumlane manager pointed to the possibility of one collective session this weekend and a “small volume” of work. Recovery is the magic word, especially for some of the older members of the side.
“It is tight to get everything right, but we had to do it after Craigbane…before we took on Clones,” he said.
“It will be tough on the bodies, but there is no advantage for either team with Stewartstown playing (against Letterkenny) at the same time.”
Dunne said that Ryan Connolly was replaced at half-time after going over an ankle.
“We didn’t want to risk him, we’ll monitor it this week and see how it is,” he said.
After a cagey opening spell against the Fermanagh champions, it was a devastating second quarter that propelled Drumlane into a 1-9 to 0-5 interval lead after the sides had sussed one another out.
“There were no sweepers and it was man on man. It was not your typical Ulster Club football where there would be mass defences,” said Dunne. who expects similar in the final.
“We tried to go away from that and play an attacking brand of football and we knew Newtownbutler were an attacking team that were not playing sweepers. We knew it was going to be an open and attractive game.”
With their pace, coupled with a midfield foothold, it allowed Drumlane the chance to kick on and Dunne felt they also left other chances behind them.
“We missed a couple of good goal chances in the first ten or 15 minutes, but we were playing against a strong breeze and were happy to be 1-9 to 0-5 at half time,” he said.
Speaking on Monday, Dunne admitted to have not known too much about Saturday’s opponents and he’d have to run his eye over the Stewartstown attack to get his own marking arrangements in place.
“We have focused on our own game all year and it will be about trying to get our own ship in order,” he said.
“They (Stewartstown) have put up big scores all year and they have lively forwards so I suspect it to be another shootout on Saturday.”