By Shaun Casey
BALLYBAY are looking forward to the new and exciting prospect of featuring in the Ulster Club Championship, something they haven’t done since 2012.
Captain Eoin McKearney was just a cub at that stage, but the 25-year-old says the whole team is looking forward to this weekend’s experience.
“I’ve never played in it; probably half of the squad was involved in 2012 when they played Kilcoo but it’s my first time in the Ulster championship,” said McKearney, who followed in the footsteps of his grandad, his grand uncle and his father in captaining the men in maroon to a county title.
“It’s something to look forward to. The other competition is kind of put to one side now and everyone is looking forward to it and it’s something new for half of us. It’s something that the club tried before and probably didn’t get what we wanted out of it in 2012 so everyone has put a lot of effort into it this time.”
Kilcoo ended their journey at the first hurdle a decade ago and things won’t be much easier this time around. In order to just reach the last four, the Monaghan champions will have to overcome 11-time winners Crossmaglen and dethrone the reigning Ulster and All-Ireland champions Kilcoo.
“You’re playing in the Ulster Club; you’re never going to get an easy game. If you look around all the provinces Ulster probably has the pick of the quality teams.
“I think no matter what side we were on we were always going to have a big challenge ahead of us but that’s a great opportunity to have as well.
“You want to be put against the big teams and test yourself and see where you’re at against them.”
Ballybay finished their Farney campaign one week before the Armagh championship ended, so they got to see their opponents, Crossmaglen in the flesh as they overcame Granemore by 12-points.
“A few of us headed down to watch the game. It’s nice to get a look at them and sit down and watch those games. It’s something different and something new,” he said.
“We know Scotstown, you know every man, the same with Clontibret and Truagh and all those teams, you know them inside out by this stage.
“So, coming up against other Ulster clubs, it’s a little bit freer and exciting because each team can probably go out and express themselves a little bit more and it’s enjoyable football to play, I’m sure.
“The game is in Armagh, it’s only 30 minutes up the road for us at the end of the day so it’s not too far for us. Some of us have played here between schools football and county football so most lads will be familiar with the grounds.
“At the end of the day, it’s a pitch with two goals, one at either side so it’s all there to play for,” added McKearney.