By Michael McMullan
SUNDAY’S meeting with Castlerahan is a massive step up for his side, insists Corduff manager Seamus McEnaney.
The former Farney boss was player/manager the last time they were intermediate champions. 24 years ago, and his voice was buzzing with enthusiasm on the back of Farney league and championship double.
The club were on the brink of relegation to the junior ranks in the over the last two seasons, with ‘Banty’ coming on board at the tail end of 2021 before staying on board.
While he was on duty with Monaghan, it was his selectors – his brother Pat and inter-county referee Martin McNally – who minded the house in a management team that has now grown to 13.
Corduff’s only defeat (1-11 to 0-11) came at the hands of Magheracloone in the opening group game a day when an early sending off left them chasing a game the performed well in.
“We played really good football that evening, maybe as good as we played in the whole championship,” McEnaney said of the painful loss.
“We didn’t fear anybody and we were only beat by three points and it gave us that confidence for the remainder of the championship.”
McEnaney labelled their section as the “group of death” with Cremartin, Emyvale and Doohamlet all in the mix, but Corduff finished second to set up a quarter-final with 2021 junior champions Sean McDermott’s.
After coming from six points down to edge them out, it took extra-time to see off Toome – after again trailing by six – in the semi-final.
The decider saw Magheracloone lead by two points with time up, but Corduff’s battling qualities found an extra gear and Keith McEnaney’s goal helped them to victory.
Magheracloone led by 10 points seven days later in the league final before Corduff battled their way back to clinch the double.
“It built a bit of character in the group going into the Ulster Club Championship,” said McEnaney of a campaign that delivered five high octane games in as many weeks before last weekend’s break in their adventure.
“There is a great buzz in the camp and in the community…we came from very far back,” said McEnaney, heaping praise on everyone connected with the club.
“In fairness to the players, they all came together last November and said we’d give it a big shift for 2022 and they did.
“There’s a population of maybe 300 odd people in Corduff. We said we’d get everybody out that could play for Corduff out playing for us and we did that. That was a huge thing for us. We are a small club with a big heart.”
“They (players) are very organised and put in a huge commitment. They got their just reward and to win the Monaghan Championship is unreal for Corduff because we hadn’t won an intermediate championship in 24 years.
“It was an opportunity for Corduff to play senior football in 2023. We certainly partied hard on the back of that for a few days and on the following Sunday we partied hard for a few days after winning the league.”
The Ulster scene brought a freshness and a chance to pit themselves with teams across Ulster, with wins over Shane O’Neill’s and Saval in the way to Sunday’s semi-final.
“There is a huge jump in standard, they have been in five finals in a row and their last senior title was three years ago,” he said of Castlerahan.
“ It is a daunting task for us against a very experienced Castlerahan team
“We have had an unbelievable journey, but we’ll give everything we have and if it’s not good enough we’ll have to rest our case then.”