By Mark McGoldrick
NEWTOWNBUTLER manager Darren Chapman is urging his players to ‘show up and perform’ as the First Fermanagh’s bid to reach their first ever Ulster Club final.
Chapman’s side face Cavan champions Drumlane on Sunday in the last four, and he admits that there is a good excitement and buzz in the camp.
“Preparations have been going very, very well,” said the Newtownbutler boss.
“The players are all looking forward now to the challenge on Sunday.”
Newtownbutler booked their place in the Ulster semi-final with a comprehensive 18-point victory over Antrim champions Na Piarsaigh.
Chapman isn’t reading much into that win and he is looking for an improved performance on Sunday.
“Any time you win in the Ulster Club Championship is very special. It was enjoyable but we have to park that now and put our full focus on Drumlane, that is where all of our focus is on now,” he said.
“There were elements of the Na Piarsigh game that weren’t great when we looked at the video. We have been working on fixing those and working on how we are going to beat Drumlane.
“The most important thing for us will be making sure that we show up and perform, first and foremost, that’s what I am hoping for.”
Drumlane pose a formidable challenge for Newtownbutler this weekend.
The Cavan men booked their place in the last four with a one-point win over Derry champions Craigbane and a single score victory over Monaghan winners Clones.
Chapman is expecting a massive test.
“They are a big, physical team,” he said, “I expect that they will play to their strengths, so it will be a physical encounter and our guys have to be ready to match that physicality when required.”
Newtownbutler are a relatively young team, with seven of their quarter-final starting 15 aged 21 years old or younger.
The First Fermanagh’s boss admits that nerves will be inevitable this weekend.
“We have got a young team, but we have got a lot of experienced players in there that have been helping our young guys deal with the pressures of the big games,” said Chapman.
“If you look at the younger guys, a lot of them have played in big MacRory Cup games, so I am hoping that they will be able to deal with the pressure.
“There will be pressure because it is a massive game, but I think we’ll be okay,” he said.
Chapman said he has a ‘full clean bill of health’ and he has no injury concerns.
Newtownbutler’s captain James Maguire couldn’t play any part in the quarter-final win due to a knee injury, but the First Fermanagh’s boss says he is ‘back in contention’ to start.
A victory on Sunday and a place in an Ulster final would be ‘absolutely massive’ for the Newtownbutler club, said Chapman.
“We have never been in one [an Ulster Club Championship final] before so it would be fabulous.
“It would be history and it would, most importantly, inject even more impetus into our underage players and systems that are working so well at the moment.
“It is a very important game for us and one that are looking forward to.”