MACCUMHAILLS perhaps feel somewhat lucky at having reached the quarter-final stages of the competition, yet they see playing in the quarter-finals as an opportunity to get closer to the ‘so-called top four’.
Their win over Termon in the last round, allied with other results in the competition gained them a place in the last eight along with some of the big hitters.
MacCumhaills needed to win last weekend after having lost to St Michael’s and Glenswilly in the group stages. But they did so and got a result against Termon last day out. Jamie Keegan’s goal and Eoin Gallen’s penalty save were crucial moments in their 1-18 to 1-12 win.
MacCumhaills team coach Paddy Clohessy said: “It was do or die for us. We left ourselves a lot to do with St Michael’s and Glenswilly. The only consolation we took from those games was that we were beaten so close. There were only two points in it in both games. They were games we could have won. It meant we had a decent score difference once we beat Bundoran in the second last game. Because of the Glenswilly result against St Naul’s it meant that if we got a good score against Termon it would get us through because they were up against Naomh Conaill. That is how it panned out.”
Clohessy, who take the team along with Seosamh McKelvey and Paul Rouse, said that the MacCumhaills success came down to a battling attitude within the team.
“The reaction from Glenswilly to the Bundoran game we were on two defeats. We were staring down the barrel.
“In the Bundoran game we had to win. We got a new lease of life. We went five down but threw off the shackles. We brought that momentum into the Termon game. It has been a positive two weeks for us.”
Their next game is against Kilcar.
“They have strengths all over the pitch. They have been there or thereabouts, and have been unlucky not to have won Ulster the last time but they met a very good Sleacht Néill team. They have threats all over the pitch. They have Ryan and Mark McHugh, and Paddy McBrearty.
“Even in the league when they don’t have those lads they are still putting in strong performances. So when they come back into the side they get stronger. Any team that they have played they have put up a huge score. Their average score is 1-16 per game. That shows the task that we have coming up against us.”
On the basis of that evidence then MacCumhaills are underdogs. However, they are not writing off the chance of upsetting the odds.
“It would be massive for our club. We have made great progress at underage. Our minor team has reached the county final. It would be fantastic for our club to reach the semi-final. We were there two years ago. We didn’t do ourselves justice that day against a rampant Gaoth Dobhair team. We have been steadily building this last couple of years and trying to introduce more younger lads. The cycle has been continuous.
“There is no point for us to be in the quarter-final and not improve. We are trying to break into the so-called top four. So it would mean everything for this area. We haven’t really won the silverware in a long time. We just want to get as close as we can to the likes of Kilcar.”
The challenge they face in doing that is overcoming their injury situation.
“We have had a tough year this year. We had a lot of injuries. Coming out of lockdown a lot of guys had soft tissue injuries.
“The games in the championship haven’t helped. We had a game against Bundoran, we had a guy who had a hamstring injury. We replaced him and they the replacement injured his shoulder. We have been very unlucky with injuries. In the last game we picked up another injury. Joe Boyle picked up a concussion. We have been down numbers wise. A couple of the lads are coming back and we are getting boys ready.”