By Michael McMullan
THE Portadown soccer camp will have an interest in Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate clash of Glenullin and Glenravel at Celtic Park.
Eamon Fyfe and Eoin Bradley are strikers who will be in opposite camps after playing in Wednesday’s League Cup win over Crusaders.
Fyfe bagged the winner and Glenravel will be hoping he can be the hero against a Glenullin side who won back-to-back Derry titles with Bradley hitting 1-6 in their extra-time win over Banagher.
“The two boys are trying to keep it under the radar so they don’t get a fine but the manager knows it is going ahead and thankfully it is going ahead on a Sunday,” joked Newtownstewart native Ryan Mayse, referring to Fyfe.
On the day Fyfe hit two points in Glenravel’s win over an All-Saints team managed by Liam ‘Baker’ Bradley, Portadown – including Bradley junior – were on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat to Dundela with Mayse bagged the Ports’ only goal.
“They (Portadown players) gave Eamonn a bit of stick for getting fined and there is an ongoing thing going on there,” Mayse added with a laugh.
“I am sure the fine didn’t matter that much because they got the trophy at the end of the day.”
From a Portadown point of view, Mayse hopes both come through unscathed.
“I suppose it is a case of ‘may the best man win’ on the day,” he added. “There was a bit of craic in the group about running a bus to watch the ‘Skinner’ and ‘Fyfer’ show, but I’m not sure if that will happen.”
A fourth member of the Portadown GAA contingent is Caolin Coyle who plays with Magherafelt and there is a bit of friendly batter ahead of Sunday’s game. “We’d have a good Gaelic team…we’d have a good full-forward line, me, Skinner and Fyfer,” Mayse added.
“I think we’d have to keep Skinner in close to the square. We’d put Fyfer out to the half-forward line to get the ball into me and Skinner, it would be like Paddy and Eoin back in the day.”
So, what does a GAA background bring to the soccer scene? Mayse is in his first season with Portadown in what is “virtually an entirely new team” and feels the physical nature of Gaelic football is a huge help in soccer.
“From playing against Skinner in previous years and playing with him and Fyfer this year, you know there is a bit of GAA in them,” Mayse said.
“There is a bit of toughness and a bit of steeliness in them, know-how and cuteness. They fire themselves about and aren’t afraid to throw themselves into tackles. They know how to look after themselves and you would know on a soccer field who plays Gaelic and who doesn’t. You need to be rough and ready to play it and they are coming from a good background.”
As a GAA and soccer player himself, Mayse accepts the benefits soccer will bring the other way. Vision and communication are the main characteristics taken back to the Gaelic field.
“It works both ways and the players from soccer who go back to the Gaelic are one of the top three or four players on their club team,” he concluded.