By Kieran Lynch
LIATROIM are hoping to win and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Down Intermediate football Championship when they take on Clann na Banna in Mayobridge on Saturday.
The side, who are managed by Frank Fitzsimons, will be amongst the contenders to win the competition, having pushed the favourites Rostrevor all the way in their opener, before defeating last year’s beaten finalists Darragh Cross on penalties.
Despite the 0-13 to 0-10 defeat against Benny Coulter’s Rostrevor, Fitzsimons believes that his team took belief from their performance.
“We definitely took confidence from it,” he affirmed.
“Don’t get me wrong, we went out to try and win the game, but Rostrevor are odds-on favourites, I would imagine. But I suppose their experience told in the end, having been a senior championship team over the last number of years.
“Ultimately, they got the last six points to win by three, but if we learn from that, we’ll be okay.”
Having lost on their first day out, Liatroim were tasked with a tough test against Darragh Cross, where defeat would have spelled an end to their championship campaign and sent them into a relegation play-off.
However, Fitzsimons said that his side couldn’t afford to have a negative mindset.
“I don’t think that came into it; we never really thought that far ahead,” explained the manager.
“I’m not saying that we knew we were going to win the match, but you sort of have to keep that out of your head until you’re actually in that situation.”
In that game, Liatroim were once again involved in a nail-biter, and their back-door clash against Darragh Cross went all the way to a penalty shootout following a 0-14 to 1-11 draw, before they were able to win it on sudden death.
“At that stage it was out of my hands,” said Fitzsimons, regarding the victory on penalties.
“Darragh Cross are a seasoned team, with plenty of experience and I think that we were victims of our own success.
“Having beaten them easily in the last game of the league, people expected us to go and do that again. But that’s not the way that championship works, and we were just glad to get over it.”
Liatroim obviously had enough firepower to get through the test, but had they been practicing penalties beforehand?
“There were a few players who practiced them… I’ll tell you one thing; we’re practicing them now!”
Now awaiting Liatroim are Clann na Banna, who they will be favoured to defeat, but their task will be made all the more difficult if star forward Conor McCrickard doesn’t recover from a knock in time.
Like Liatroim, Clann na Banna also took on Rostrevor, but despite defeat, they proved to be no pushovers, in a 10-goal thriller, which they lost 6-15 to 4-11.
“They’ll be a massive challenge for us,” said Fitzsimons of Clann na Banna
“They put up a massive score against Rostrevor last week. I’ve been in this game long enough, and I know that you just can’t underestimate anybody.
“You have to make sure that your own team is ready, and that everybody goes out and performs.”