By Mark McGoldrick
TONY Collins feels that the strength and depth of the Teemore bench could be key this Saturday as the Shamrocks aim to end their 11-year wait for the Intermediate Football Championship title.
Old rivalries are set to be renewed in Brewster Park when the Teemore men face near neighbours Derrylin in the decider and Collins knows that there’s going to be no quarter given in the game.
“With the two teams being in the same parish, it’s going to be interesting for the neutral. We certainly know plenty about each other,” admitted the St Kevin’s College, Lisnaskea PE teacher.
“These boys were probably at school together, they’d be hanging out together and probably socialising together. It’s going to be a real derby game.
“On the day of the match though, the Intermediate Football Championship title will be at stake and that’s what’s important,” he added.
Last December, Collins took over at the Teemore helm. Self admittedly, securing promotion to Division One was one of the targets for the season, but the Shamrocks came up short, finishing third.
Given their vast experience and squad depth, many predicted that Teemore would be challenging for the championship title, but Collins is quick to dismiss any talk of a favourites tag.
“The reality is that we might have been seen as favourites, but the league standings don’t tell lies,” said the former Fermanagh minor manager.
“There were three Division One teams and they were playing a higher level of football than us and it never really dawned on us that we’d be favourites.”
Teemore have an abundance of young stars in their team. The likes of the McNally brothers, Colm, Seán and Rían, Oisin Murphy, Cian McManus and Ronan McCaffrey have all been very impressive.
The Shamrocks also boasts one of the top placed ball kickers in the county in Eoin McManus and Collins feels that having ‘elder statesmen’ like Damien Lee has helped his team in the championship.
“Having lads to bring on in key positions and having competition for places in the squad has been an important part of our success,” said the Shamrocks boss.
“We have a few boys who have won championship medals, so there’s a good blend of players and you need to have a few elder statesmen to show the young lads how things are to be done.”
Standing in Teemore’s way of winning the Intermediate Football Championship title is Derrylin though;
“They’ve some quality footballers and they’ve ground out results.
“ I saw them beat a quality Tempo team and they can really grind out wins.”
Winning the Intermediate Football Championship title would be one of the top achievements in Collins’ managerial career but he’s not getting too carried away.
“It’s great to be in the (Intermediate Football Championship Final), surely be to God,” he said, “it’s nice to get the length of the latter stages and we’re just going to play the game and not play the occasion.”