TOO MANY injured players means that any realistic chance of Lamh Dhearg challenging for a senior championship title is gone.
That’s the assessment of manager Martín Lynch. The Hannahstown club were county champions back in 2017, the only club outside of Cargin and St Gall’s to win it in the last two decades. Yet it would seem that their hopes have been dashed after Lynch confirmed that the team have ruled out the services of a few key players.
Lamh Dhearg play Naomh Eanna this weekend in the second meeting of the round robin championship. Naomh Eanna won the first game.
Lynch said: “It is an uphill one for us. They are flying at the minute and look to be the inform team. It will be a big push for us.
“We have had a difficult year. We are bringing in a lot of new players. We lost heavily (players). We lost Michael Herron, a seasoned campaigner. We lost the two Stranneys who are seasoned campaigners. We lost Kevin Quinn, we lost Marc Jordan. They are significant players.
“It is a transition year for us. We know we are up against it. They are an improved team and work very hard. They are on the up. I think we are up against it.
“Michael Herron ruptured his knee cap and has had the operation. Kevin Quinn had an operation with the county earlier in the year. He isn’t back yet. One of the Stranneys broke a bone in his foot. The other one is waiting on an ACL operation. The pedigree of players to lose is too much. We have to adjust and recalibrate. We have to see it as a transition year and see where it takes us.”
Michael Herron is a former county player. Kevin Quinn and Marc Jordan are current county players. They have also lost Eoin McKeown who is playing soccer with Ballymena United in the Irish League. Those absences have meant that the club have had to look to the next generation.
“In the course of this year we have used six or seven out of minor and they are making a good impact. Whether they are serious enough contenders at championship level, you don’t know. That is the difference.
“We are still knocking on the door. We are a good decent team. We have good footballers but we lost a lot of people.”
While Lamh Dhearg are weaker than they were last season when they topped the group and reached the county semi-finals, Lynch says that Naomh Eanna are in a different position. The Hightown road club lost to Creggan Kickhams in the quarters last year but have a new manager in Carl McCabe.
“It is going to be a tough match for us. We will be there or thereabouts. We are always going to be there and we have that confidence, we are always ambitious. But we have to be realistic as well. We are not at the strength that we were at.”
“I think Carl McCabe has definitely made improvements. They were going in the right direction under Frank Fitzsimons (the manager before Carl McCabe), but I do think that the speed at which they play, their transition, is very energetic. They are a very good team. They will put it up to anybody on their day.”