By Shaun Casey
OMAGH manager Paul O’Grady may have some homework to do on this weekend’s opponents, but he knows all too well what he’ll face from the man that stands in the opposite corner having come up against him numerous times in the past.
St Eunan’s boss Kevin Kelly is a familiar face for O’Grady and the two share a friendship that could come under some strain this Saturday afternoon in Letterkenny.
“He’d be a good friend of mine so I’m looking forward to the game,” said O’Grady, who guided Omagh to their first championship crown in 50 years.
“Me and Kevin Kelly would have both been over two different teams that have played against each other down through the years so I’m looking forward to meeting him again.
“I know him fairly well; we would be quite friendly. He would have been over Derry u-20s, and I would have been over the Sligo u-20s at the time so me and Kevin have met a few times down through the years.
“We’ve had a few different battles and hopefully this time I get one over him. To be fair he’s beaten me more than I’ve been him so I’m hoping to turn that over, it’s another leaf that needs to be turned.”
The four-week gap between winning the county championship and getting their Ulster campaign underway pales into insignificance compared to the half a century long wait for championship gold, so O’Grady and his team enjoyed the celebrations.
“We had a four-week wait from winning Tyrone (Junior final against Naomh Colum cille) to now,” added the Omagh, St Enda’s boss. “We finished up on the 8th of October and we’re back in now on the 4th of November so four full weeks of getting set for Ulster now.
“We took a week out at the beginning as you can obviously understand, after 50 years there were good celebrations. So, we had that bit of a week out and then straight back into action again.”
Last year’s Ulster Junior Championship winners Setanta hailed from the Tir Chonaill county so O’Grady is under no illusions of the task that is ahead for the Omagh men. But, in championship anything can happen, and O’Grady will be drilling that mindset into his side.
“Donegal is very different that Tyrone,” added O’Grady. “The way Tyrone have done it, we have a Senior and a Junior and Donegal have a Senior play-off so basically if you win the Donegal, you go through to Intermediate but if you don’t win you go into the Junior.
“So, you’re getting two of the toughest teams in Donegal at both grades so that’s a big ask. But at the same time championship is championship and any team can win on the day so that’s my point of view.
“That’s the hope anyway and if you can push forward and get a few scores and a few big hits in at the beginning then you can rattle any team so that’s what we’re hoping to do.”