By Michael McMullan
GRANEMORE have had tough campaigns in the past but Rachael Merry feels this one tops it off.
The Armagh champions will aim to go one step further than last season’s Ulster final defeat when they take on rivals Crosserlough on Saturday (Castleblayney, 4pm).
It took extra-time before Granemore saw off the Breffni side in the semi-final but Brídíní Óga (Glenravel) were a bridge too far.
“We’ve had our toughest run yet,” Merry said. “We had to go all the way to Loughgiel for a preliminary round and then Newbridge in the semi-final.
“It has been week after week and 12 of us are dual players and we had to play a football game the day after the Loughgiel match.”
That’s only the Ulster story. For the last eight years, it has been Granemore and Ballymacnab who have battled for the Orchard County title with only the puck of a ball between them.
Granemore won three. The ‘Nab came back with the next three titles before Granemore’s winning return over the last two seasons.
“With Ballymacnab, there has never been more than two of three points between us,” Merry said.
“The games are so tight over the last number of years and that’s the same in the league.
“There is rarely more than a score and it is usually a bit of luck on the day. There is nothing between us.”
After the two-hour trip to Loughgiel, Granemore found themselves six points in arrears against a “gale-force wind” before coming back for a 0-14 to 1-9 victory.
After bouncing back from the football defeat 24 hours later, Granemore were 1-16 to 1-12 winners over Newbridge at the weekend to set up another clash with Crosserlough.
“We were nearly always ahead for most of the game but they clawed it back to a point with a few minutes to go,” Merry said of their win over the Derry champions.
“Conditions were tough, the pitch was heavy and wet, so it was a very tight game to come through.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Granemore can expect more of the same.
It’s Crosserlough again after their 3-9 to 0-5 win over Kilcoo.
“We played them in the semi-final last year and we won by a point after extra-time,” Merry said of the Cavan threat.
“We have played them in Ulster four years ago and they beat us by a point so it is always a really close contest between us.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves and we’ll take it one game at a time after being on the trot for a third week in a row.
“Everybody is feeling good but we know it is going to be a very tough challenge and we are probably going into it as underdogs, but we are very excited and can’t wait for it.”