Eglish in All-Ireland semi-final action after lengthy lay-off

By Niall Gartland

EGLISH camogs haven’t plotted the typical path to this Saturday’s All-Ireland Intermediate Championship semi-final clash against Meath side Na Fianna.

Their last competitive outing was a Tyrone Senior Championship final replay victory over Dungannon-based Naomh Treasa in mid-September as there was no Ulster Intermediate Championship to play for this year.

A decision was made to regrade Down as a senior county at provincial level after Clonduff won last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate title, so this Eglish team have faced two months of relative inactivity since claiming county honours.

Manager Nathan Curry, who hurls with Armagh club Middletown, acknowledges that it’s a ‘frustrating’ state of affairs but what’s done is done and they’re mere days away from a huge All-Ireland semi-final clash against the Leinster champions.

Curry was involved in a coaching capacity the last time Eglish reached the All-Ireland final back in 2016, then under the tutelage of his father Martin, but a lot has changed in the meantime, as he explains.

“I came on board as manager last year at the start of August and I’d been involved a good few years back alongside my father Martin and my brother Odhran.

“We’d a good run at that stage, we won three Ulsters in a row and made it to Croke Park for an All-Ireland final, we were only beaten by a point or two. It’s mostly a new team now, a lot of the more experienced girls have either moved on, retired or have family commitments.”

He continued: “But at the same time a lot of youth is coming through, some of the girls are just out of minor or are playing at minor level. The potential they have is unbelievable so Eglish should have a good squad for years to come.”

Eglish almost fell to a shock defeat against Naomh Treasa in the Tyrone final before producing a stronger display second time out in the replay. They had to field without Ciara Donnelly and Ciara McMullan, both of whom recently had daughters, though the latter Ciara will be back in action this weekend.

“The two Ciaras, as I call them, are hugely experienced players, the skill level and what they bring to the team in general is untold. We knew they’d be unavailable for the Tyrone final and I suppose it was a matter of other girls stepping up and taking their opportunity. There was perhaps a bit of nerves in the drawn game but they really stood up in the replay from start to finish.”

Their All-Ireland semi-final opponents Na Fianna have a rake of talented dual players but Curry says Eglish’ main focus is on getting the best out of themselves.

“We saw their Leinster final and they’re a strong team and they play with plenty of movement. But you can look at opponents as much as you want but the important thing from our perspective is given the best account of ourselves as we can and hopefully we’ll not be far away.”

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