By Katrina Brennan
DERRYLIN manager Sean Donnelly has been involved with many clubs over the years, from St Pat’s to Fintona, Drumquin, Trillick and Irvinestown in between, but he has only ever won one championship and that was with this weekend’s opponents, Teemore, back in 2005.
The Trillick man led the Shamrocks to their 21st Senior Championship title 18 years ago but this weekend, the past will firmly be set aside as Derrylin aim to win their first Intermediate title since 2014.
The O’Connell’s go into Saturday evening’s game wary of the Teemore threat because only a month ago, the Shamrocks inflicted somewhat of a bruising defeat upon them, beating them 1-18 to 1-08 up in Teemore.
“It’s going to be a very tough game because they gave us a good stuffing three or four weeks ago in the round-robin match. They are a team that’s looking to get into the Senior Championship again,” explained Donnelly.
But however Donnelly plays down their chances and big’s the opposition up, Derrylin were not at full strength that day. The loss of key forward Diarmuid Owens followed by the injury to Mark Murphy in the first half and the black card to Ruaidhri McGoldrick means this weekend should see a better challenge from Derrylin. And Donnelly certainly hopes so.
“If we can play as well as we can play, we’ll give them a bit of a game alright.
“It’ll take hard work, a bit of luck. Come the final stage the work is all done. A lot of boys just click on the day, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Derrylin will again be without Murphy, the knee injury picked up in that group game with Teemore still keeps him out and he’ll be a big loss. His presence and experience around the middle of the park had been a much-needed boost for Derrylin and his free-taking ability will be missed. However, in Owens, Jake Smith and Fearghal McGovern, they have players well capable of slotting over frees.
Teemore are a team with youth and experience and like many Teemore sides before them, they have that physicality that is needed when it comes to championship football.
Donnelly knows their threats too well but he’s hoping his men can claim the bragging rights in this novel Knockninny Parish decider.
“All around the field (they have threats) going by the last day. Both Cian McManus, Eoin McManus, the McNallys (Colm and Sean) there would be strong. Oisin Murphy, they’ve a lot of good footballers,” says Donnelly.
In 2020, Derrylin won the Junior Championship but to take another step this weekend would be a significant achievement for the O’Connell’s.
“It would mean a big thing for Derrylin. It also means you’re going into the Senior Championship next year, so you pit your wits against senior teams. As I keep saying, and a lot of men keep saying, there might be a fine line between senior and intermediate championship, so it would be good to get a run in it and see how your fare.
“I am confident that if we can play as well as we can play, we’ll give them a good run for it.”