By Michael McMullan
FAUGHANVALE had an impressive start to this year’s Derry Intermediate Championship, but manager Joe Gray insists there is “a long way” to go.
The ‘Vale, who won the last of their five titles in 1999, were 0-13 to 1-6 winners away to league champions and championship favourites Foreglen on Sunday with Jordan Curran putting in a man of the match performance at full-forward.
They host back-to-back junior champions Desertmartin on Sunday.
“We’ll have to dust ourselves down and go again,” said Gray, a former star of the club’s forward line.
After Faughanvale’s relegation to the junior ranks in 2014, Gray saw them promoted in his role as player-manager and is back in third season of this latest stint, bidding for intermediate honours.
“We are definitely pleased with our performance,” he said after Sunday’s win that saw them score all but one of their points from play.
“It is a long league campaign with nothing to really play for in it, trying to keep men at it and building towards championship.”
With a bye in round one, Faughanvale had a six-week break since the end of the league. Challenge matches kept up the sharpness which told in the end as they kept Foreglen scoreless for the final 27 minutes.
“Thankfully the boys stuck to what we were trying to do,” he said, complimenting their efforts to come back from going three points down.
Gray was under no illusions about the Foreglen challenge and feels their championship group is “wide open” with Limavady and Castledawson coming down the tracks.
He pointed to Limavady recovering from a nine-point defeat to Foreglen to turn over Castledawson last weekend.
Four of the teams in their group have two points and Gray isn’t getting carried away with Sunday’s win.
“We know only too well, we’ve had our experiences (of missing out on titles) and know what intermediate football is all about…we’ll have to dust ourselves down and go again,” he stressed.
Two years ago, they lost Jordan Curran and Oisin Quinn to serious injuries in the same week to hamper their chances.
Both were back in action on Sunday, with Curran’s new role as a ball winner at full-forward changing the direction of their play, with Kevin Martin peppering him with angled ball to give Foreglen plenty to think about.
“Jordy can do multiple different things for us, it depends on the game where we utilise him. He is an outstanding player,” Gray said.
“It gives you another dimension; it’s as simple as that. It might not be every game that you are going to need it or use it, so you are going to need him (Curran) in different places.
“We’ll dictate that, depending on who we play. We’ll judge the next game and assess Desertmartin and we’ll build a game plan based on that.
“Panels aren’t massive these days, you need a bit of luck to keep everyone fit,” he said of the return of the duo.
“Even today, we were a couple of men short. You know, as this campaign goes on, different things can happen to different men so you need people to step up.”