By Shaun Casey
EGLISH retained their Tyrone title way back in September and two months on they’re back in action competing in the Ulster Intermediate final. Páirc Esler plays host to their clash with Down champions Clonduff this weekend, as a curtain-raiser to the senior showpiece between Loughgiel and Sleacht Néill.
It’s been a long layoff for Nathan Curry’s side, since they easily dismissed Derrylaughan in the Tyrone decider. Star forward Ciara Donnelly, who struck 1-15 in that game, points out that it’s an issue that Eglish are familiar with.
“The way it’s working at the minute, it’s alternating between playing Dungannon and Derrylaughan (in the Tyrone final),” said Donnelly, who lines out for Armagh at county level.
“We’ve had a few tight battles in the league over the last couple of years but when it comes to championship games, we’ve been able to pull away.
“The first ten minutes of it, it was tight enough going but by half time we cemented our position in the game and we really kicked on in the second half and we tried to get as many players on the pitch in a competitive game as possible.
“That’s always been our struggle (getting games), especially at this time of year when so many other counties are not really willing to play because they’re maybe in the middle of their championship.
“We got a few games there within the last month. We played Granemore, Jordanstown and Madden so we have had a bit of camogie but that’s the thing that we’re always trying to improve on.
“The way this competition works, it’s just a straight final and you’ve got Clonduff who have come through a competitive enough championship. They won well in their final in the end, but they had a quarter-final and a semi-final to build themselves up to that.
“That’s one of the toughest things we find with the competition but we’re always ready for the challenge,” added Donnelly.
Eglish are no strangers to the big day and certainly no strangers to Saturday’s opponents as the pair have shared the battlefield on numerous occasions in recent years, including last year’s provincial final.
“Over the past six or seven years we’ve met each other a lot,” Donnelly continued. “We won three Ulster’s in a row, and I think we maybe competed against them once in the final and it was a very tight game, it’s always a tight game.
“They beat us one year after a replay and they beat us by a few points in the Moy one year as well. We played them again in last year’s final and we beat them, I think we won by maybe 14 points, but they were missing their three big hitters who were all out having babies.
“They’re all back now and they’re all back with a vengeance having come out of Down the way they have. We know it’s going to be a tough, tough game but we’re as ready for it as we can be.”