By Shaun Casey
THE Ulster Championship provides Fintona with a chance to really focus on themselves, given their unfamiliarity with the opposition, suggests skipper Niall Murray as the Tyrone champions prepare to face Down representatives Drumaness on Sunday afternoon at O’Neill’s Healy Park (2pm).
Fresh off the back of their double digit win over Ballyhegan last Saturday, Martin Greene’s side will have home advantage this weekend as they prepare for their quarter-final matchup with the Mourne visitors.
“It’s a quick turnaround but because this is the preliminary round, it was always going to be a quick turnaround,” said Fintona’s rock solid centre half back Murray.
“It’s something to look forward to, it’s the Ulster Championship and it’s another day out. When you play Tyrone League and Tyrone Championship, you face those teams loads of times, we know them, and they know us.
“But you’re going into games now in the Ulster Championship, we don’t know much about them, and they don’t know much about us so it’s maybe a wee bit more of an opportunity to focus on ourselves and put a good week of training in.”
Fintona were comfortable ten-point winners (1-16 to 1-6) in the opening round tie with Ballyhegan, although Murray suggests the scoreboard didn’t reflect the competitive nature of the game.
“It didn’t really feel as comfortable as the scoreline, they had a few chances there, Cathal (Gillespie) made a great save in the second half and they were always dangerous.
“But it’s our first win in Ulster and it’s great to get a win in Ulster so we’re just delighted to get through it and it’s on to the next round now.”
Although five-points up and flying at half time, Fintona were hit with a sucker punch 30 seconds after the restart as Ballyhegan rattled the net through midfielder Mark Hughes, who stationed himself on the edge of the square for the second period.
But the Pearses responded in commendable fashion, slotting over four-points on the trot before raising a green flag of their own through Conor McGillion.
Fintona displayed their awesome firepower, with the full forward line notching 1-10 between them, but the wide count of 13 gives them something to improve on.
“Credit to Ballyhegan, they got a great start to the second half, but I suppose it was the theme of our Tyrone Championship,” added Murray. “There’s been setbacks and we’ve been behind, granted that was just a setback because I think we were still two points up at that stage.
“But we just carried on with our own game. We stayed relaxed, we stayed composed and we have the forwards up there to do the damage and they did that today.
“It’s good to have them boys up there but there were a few chances that we missed; the shot selection wasn’t great at times so there’s definitely loads to work through. We play the Down champions next now, so we have plenty of work to do before that.
“You never get a perfect game and that definitely wasn’t one there today, so we’ll get two or three good sessions during the week and we’re looking forward to it.”