THEY aren’t one of the heavy hitters in the county but a small club on the periphery of Derry City pulled off one of the results of the championship last weekend.
Ardmore, who had previously won only a single match all season, got the better of Sean Dolan’s on a scoreline of 2-13 to 0-14 to qualify for a quarter-final clash against Craigbane this Sunday.
Craigbane will be red hot favourites, but it’s a sign of the progress Ardmore have made in recent years as for a period it looked like the club would struggle to maintain its existence.
Chairman William McLaughlin hopes that things will only improve in the years to come.
“We’ve definitely had a few lean years. We were reliant on a crop of players who have lined out for the last two decades, and we probably neglected our underage structures for a while, but now we’re back on track. We’ve about 100 kids at the pitch every Wednesday night and some of our younger players are starting to filter through to the senior team.”
On the significance of their surprise win over Sean Dolan’s, McLaughlin said: “It was only our second victory all season. We’d shipped some big scores, Ballymaguigan gave us a good beating earlier in the championship and it was much the same against Moneymore.
“It was definitely the right time for us to get a wee win so we’re delighted with the outcome.”
Even though they’ve struggled to hold their own in the junior ranks, McLaughlin points out that they’ve a proud history, and at times they’ve certainly punched above their weight in the competitive world of Derry club football.
“There’s been Gaelic here from about the 1930s, we’ve been in and out of existence one or two times. We were in the intermediate ranks for four or five years in the mid-2000s and we won the Junior Championship in 2010 and 2013.
“We always have a small panel but we’ve produced plenty of talented players at the same time.
“Unfortunately we’re like any rural club in that we’ve lost lads when they go to university or get the travel bug, and we’re not on our own in that regard.
“We’re on the periphery of the city though we’ve a bit of overspill, and a few familes from non-GAA families in Derry have moved into Ardmore. They’ve joined the club so we’ve good numbers compared to a few years back.”
Their quarter-final opponents Craigbane are one of the favourites for the championship so it’s something of a free hit for Ardmore, accepts McLaughlin.
“I’d say themselves and Ballymaguigan are favourites for the whole thing. They came through the league campaign unbeaten and defeated us by a big enough margin when we met them, so I’d say they’ll be hot favourites.”