By Barry O’Donnell
GALBALLY attacker Ronan Nugent expects the village of the famous beauty pageant to go all out to make life ugly for the Pearses in this Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate Championship semi-final.
The Tyrone champions tackle Donegal side Dungloe at Celtic Park in Derry this Sunday afternoon chasing their second spot in the final of this provincial competition in four seasons.
Having run amok in the first round, when sticking seven goals past an out-of sorts Glenullin, Galbally will go into this weekend’s contest as favourites, but they will be wary against a side who themselves emphatically beat their Antrim opponents by seven points in their opener.
If Paddy Crozier’s charges are looking for any positive omens then they only have to hark back to that 2019 run to the Ulster final, when they also got the better of a Donegal side (St Naul’s) to book their passage into the decider.
Ronan Nugent, who was one of the goalscorers against Glenullin, doesn’t expect Dungloe to be quite so open in terms of their defensive organisation as the Oakleafers were last time out.
“We played St Nauls three years ago in the semi-final also at Celtic Park and that was a tight game. We probably expect nothing different from Dungloe. I’m sure they will set up in a similar sort of way. Donegal teams rarely give you much time and space to play.”
The likes of Conor Donaghy and Daniel Kerr mustn’t have believed they were playing in an Ulster Championship match as Glenullin afforded them the freedom of Derry city to run amok in the first round. Nugent felt that everything just clicked for them on the day.
“We had a good start to the game. Glenullin were then chasing it and had to come out which left their defence exposed and we were able to take advantage. We had the wind in the second half and were able to pick them off. They had plenty of chances too which they didn’t convert so we will have to look back at that and cut down on those opportunities the next day. No matter the scoreline we were just happy with the win and reaching the semi-final.”
The Pearses played like a team who felt at home on the Ulster stage and Nugent felt their experience of that 2019 campaign stood to them against Glenullin. He was also pleased to see more men shake off the rust after a period of inactivity.
“There is a lot of boys in the team who were involved in 2019 and I suppose you could see that. It was also good to give men minutes on the field, the likes of Daniel (Kerr).Fergal McGarrity and Aidan Carberry were also back and able to get out there so it was beneficial all round.”
While the month of December is just around the corner, Nugent states that everyone within the camp is flying right now and enjoying still being involved in championship action.
“We enjoyed winning the county final but we were quickly enough getting back down to the hard work. We got in a couple of weeks hard training to get our lads going again. It’s all about preparing for one game at a time and see where that takes you.
“It’s just great to be training at this time of year and the weather has been perfect too for the last few games. The mood in the camp is great, I suppose it is like that when any club wins its own championship. The heads are up and everyone is flying and looking forward to the next challenge. Long may it continue.”
The 26-year old also explained that they were able to play with a bit of freedom now that their primary aim of the season had been attained.
“Promotion is massive for us. It was very disappointing to get relegated. The confidence was down so this year we achieved our main aim which was getting back up to play Division One. That’s where we think we belong.”