By Shaun Casey
OVER the last number of years, Scotstown have become accustomed to competing in the Ulster Championship at senior level. The An Bhoth men lost out to Ballybay this year, but the club are still represented on the provincial stage through their minor side.
Scotstown take on Donaghmore in the quarter-final of the St Paul’s Ulster Minor Tournament and manager Niall McCarville is delighted to be in the competition.
“The seniors unfortunately didn’t get into Ulster this year so the whole focus has switched onto the minors which has kept that buzz within the club during the winter months,” said McCarville, who’s father Jack managed Scotstown to the tournament in 1997.
“I think it’s about 10 or 12 years since we were actually in the St Paul’s Minor Tournament so it’s good to be back. It’s good for the club as well, trying to blood new players into the senior team, that’s what it’s all about.
“It keeps the standards high, and the seniors are talking about it nearly as much as they would if they were in it themselves.
“It’s good for the young lads and it shows what’s ahead of them if Scotstown can get back into the Senior Club Championship.
“Those young lads have looked at Scotstown in the Senior Club Championship in Ulster over the last ten years or so. They see this as a stepping stone and a pathway into the senior team.
“That’s the main focus for the players, progression into the Scotstown senior team and what happens on the journey is a bonus.
“We’ve had a wee bit of success in it (Ulster), and we were beaten in the final one year (2008). That’s as close as we’ve got. For us to have our opportunity now, it’s very important.
“When you see what’s happening in Glen, we think that we have to start getting this (underage) right before we can make the step up in seniors. It’s definitely given everybody around Ulster an extra focus to try and do as well as they can because it is a clear pathway.”
Scotstown face stiff opposition in the opening round and McCarville knows his side are up against it. “I’ve no doubt that whatever comes out of Tyrone is going to be a massive challenge and to win any Tyrone championship, never mind back-to-back doubles, you have to be a top-class team,” added McCarville.
“They’re littered with five or six county minors that started the Ulster final this year for Tyrone so we’re under no illusion of the challenge ahead.
“All we can do is go up and try to maximise our own performance and whatever happens, the game will look after itself.
“I was actually at that Ulster final, and I remember noting at the time that they (Donaghmore) are bound to be a very strong minor outfit and I knew they’d won the double. Lo and behold, you’re drawn against them in the Ulster Championship.
“We have our work cut out, but we’ll focus on getting the best from our boys and hopefully that’ll be enough.”