THE ST John’s hurlers are feeling positive after their quarter-final win over Loughgiel.
Manager Brian McFall said that the team have taken great confidence from that result, but will need to use it against one of the strongest teams in the competition, the county champions Dunloy Cuchullains, whom they play this weekend.
“Their strengths are their forward line. Seann Elliott, ‘Coby’ (Conal Cunning), Kealan Molloy. The last time we played them in St John’s we gave them too many chances. We made too many mistakes in the forward line and they punished us. They will do that all day long. They hit points from all angles so we have to tidy that up. If you give them room they will punish us but if we cut out mistakes and play to our strengths then we could be there or thereabouts. We are under no illusions it is going to be a big ask, but we are capable of doing it. We won’t be found wanting.”
St John’s see getting past the semi-final of the Senior Hurling Championship as their holy grail. They have not reached the senior hurling county final since 1994.
If they were to upset the odds, and get the win it would represent a massive moment for the club.
McFall said: “It would be unbelievable. The Loughgiel win was a monkey off our back. It was more about relief of getting over the line. It gave the lads great encouragement. Now the monkey is off our back we will go and enjoy it.
“We have to learn from every game. Every game we have been getting stronger. The Loughgiel game was another game in which we got stronger. We hope that we can go on and lift it another notch. It is going to take another lift to get over Dunloy. Everyone is enjoying it and we are ready to go. We will not be found wanting.
“But we are back to the same place we have been for the last six or seven years, the semi-final stage. It is going to be a challenge but we have the players.”
With regards injuries, St John’s Oisin Donnelly had a hamstring injury against Loughgiel that may limit his participation. Apart from him, everyone else should be fit.
McFall says that the team has benefitted from three weeks of training together. Last week, Paddy Nugent (the football manager) didn’t use the dual players in training which meant that McFall had his hurlers for a long stretch.
“You can see some difference. We were able to train away with the full team for three weeks. That is the first time that has happened this year. We are going well. We trained hard last week. They are just ready for the match.”