By Kieran Lynch
ULSTER Intermediate champions Derrygonnelly Harps will be hoping to book their place in the All-Ireland semi-finals when they travel to London to take on British champions, Round Towers.
Anytime a team wins their county championship, they head into the unknown, but facing a team from across the water takes that a step further. However, Derrygonnelly manager Garry Smyth believes that the team leaving their comfort zone will stand to them.
“I suppose in the build-up to any game, you try and get prepare as best as you can, and we’re trying to do our homework,” he said.
“It is the unknown – we don’t have any experience of playing in London before – so certainly that’s an unknown factor; but that’s all part of the challenge, and you have to get yourself outside of your comfort zone if you want to develop as a group of players, and as a club.”
Regardless of the result this weekend, the opportunity for Derrygonnelly to play in Ruislip is one which doesn’t come around too often, and Smyth says that there is a buzz in the camp ahead of their business trip to London.
“It will be a special experience; it’s something that in all likelihood, is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Smyth explained.
“The concept of the fixture has been enthusiastically embraced by the wider club community, and it’s certainly an exciting prospect. But behind it all, we still have a job to do. It will be a competitive fixture, and one that we’re not taking lightly.
“If we’re to get the win in Ruislip, we’re going to have to earn it.”
For Derrygonnelly to get the job done, they will hope to recapture
their form from the Ulster final, where the outstanding Eimear Smyth scored 2-9 of their winning 2-11 tally against Cavan champions CastlerahanDenn.
“I was delighted for the group of girls, and the club, that we were able to secure our first Ulster title,” said Garry Smyth regarding the win.
“It was something that we had to earn. We work very hard to get across the line, and the initial reaction after the final whistle was one of relief, that we had taken the opportunity when it presented itself.”
When asked could he have foreseen such a successful campaign at the outset of the season, the manager said that he wasn’t expecting such a fruitful run, but it owes to the tremendous consistency his side have displayed all year.
“No, it’s not something we would have really contemplated going into the season,” he said.
“It’s a cliché but we took things one game at a time, and we didn’t have our full squad available throughout much of the campaign. But thankfully, we have a great extended panel, who showed great consistency throughout the whole summer and into the winter months.”