By Shaun Casey
INJURIES have taken their toll on Ballymartin this season, but Ciaran Brannigan’s men are still in with a fighting chance of promotion.
They currently sit in fourth place of Division Three, five points off table toppers St John’s, but a win over the league leaders this Friday evening will help close that gap.
“For the group of boys that we have all year and the injuries we’ve had, we’re going well, we’re going exactly where the group can be as such,” said Ballymartin boss Brannigan.
“The three teams above us are better equipped and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say that’s what it is. We have to play them all once each over the next few weeks and we can definitely cause problems for all those teams on any given night.
“We would be able to catch them and get up the table as much as we possibly can but so far, we have to just admit they have been the leading pack and they’ve been better than us.
“The Kingdom (An Riocht) beat us by two, St John’s beat us by six and Annaclone gave us a right hammering by 13 so we have to accept that where we are.
“Unfortunately, most of our injuries are long term. We lost a few boys to cruciates, we lost one last year (ACL) and there’s a knock-on effect and then at the end of last year our captain done his as well.
“So, they’re all long term, John Caldwell in the middle of the field, he has a problem with his groin and hasn’t played any football this year, and we have a small panel.
“All of this sounds like excuses but we’re really enjoying it and we’re having a go at it. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves and we’re definitely holding our own.”
Former Down midfielder Peter Fitzpatrick, who lined out at centerfield against Cork in the 2010 All-Ireland final, is still doing the business for Brannigan’s side.
“Peter’s going well at full-forward, he comes in and out of the play as he sees fit.
“He’s not an out and out full-forward as in he doesn’t just stand in there and we pump ball into him, if he finds we’re in a bit of danger out the field he’ll come out. He’s definitely a smart footballer.”
Ballymartin will be hoping for a victory when they host St John’s this weekend, but an improved performance is the overall target.
“We played them twice in the championship last year, we were beat by narrow one-point defeats in both games, but we went down to them this year at the start of the league, and we didn’t do ourselves justice at all.
“We didn’t perform on the night, and we were bitterly disappointed. We thought we had the measure of them, but I just felt we let ourselves down that night.
“This week we’ll be targeting a solid performance because we have as much ability and talent, but we’ll have to perform better than we did the first day.”