By Patrick Quigley and Katrina Brennan
IT has been a while but this weekend Teemore will embark on the Ulster Club journey once again. Down champions Liatroim provide the opposition and Shamrocks’ manager Tony Collins is expecting a stern test.
“I’ve seen the (Down) final and they’re quite physical and quite big, they have a big, strong unit,” he said.
“It was a tough, tough battle to get through in the final against Rostrevor. They’re littered with physically big players and they play a very defensive system.
“There are four McCrickard fellas, two brothers, and two cousins as well. Some talented players, and a nice mix of experience and youth too – actually quite similar to what Teemore has – so it’ll be an interesting affair.”
Liatroim came from a goal down at half time in their county final to win and that victory followed previous victories against Annaclone, Darragh Cross and Clann na Banna en-route to becoming champions.
Teemore got their hands on the Intermediate trophy for the first time in 11 years when they beat Derrylin just over a week ago in Brewster Park. It was a slow start from Collins’ side and that is something he and his team will hope to rectify this weekend.
“Derrylin took it to us and played exceptionally well the first 10, 15 minutes. but the pleasing thing is that we just settled then, we didn’t panic and were quite composed and just soaked that up and we were able to produce our best performance in a second half this year.
“But no, it’s going to have to be a better start because the further you go into the competition that can’t happen. You can’t give teams that seven-point lead and expect to draw them in every single time, so there’ll be a bit of a focus on that start now.”
Collins has been involved with various clubs in Tyrone, Monaghan and Fermanagh previously but this is the first time he has enjoyed championship success as a manager.
It’s new territory for the Lisnaskea man to wear the Bainisteoir bib on the Ulster circuit, but as a player he played twice in the competition with the Emmett’s in 1991 against Downpatrick when they were narrowly beaten, and again against Gowna in 1994. So, it’s an experience he is relishing but not focusing on personally.
“When you put so much time and effort into preparing teams and managing teams, you get a wee bit back from the lads and the rapport you form with the team, you want to see them get over the line for themselves.
“It doesn’t really be about me, it is about the club and they’re that good a club and good lads you want to see them get over the line and get that bit further and get experience.
“It’s a whole different experience but one that you’ll treasure,” added the St Kevin’s PE teacher.
The Teemore game will form part of a double-header in Brewster Park on Sunday afternoon. The Shamrocks kick-start the action at 1.30pm with Derrygonnelly against Kilcoo following in their senior encounter.
“I think it will be a great day for the spectator. It’s great to see both Fermanagh teams out in Brewster Park. It’s a great place to play and the boys are looking forward to it,” Collins added.