Folow us on social media

Sign up to our mailing list

Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

City sides aiming to reach provincial hurling deciders

Gort na Mona’s Padraig McHugh hailed the influence of team-mate Padraig McCaffrey, pictured in action in the Antrim JFC final against St Paul’s, after the midfielder hit three points from play in their narrow win over St Eunan’s of Letterkenny as they booked a semi-final meeting with Newry Shamrocks Gort na Mona’s Padraig McHugh hailed the influence of team-mate Padraig McCaffrey, pictured in action in the Antrim JFC final against St Paul’s, after the midfielder hit three points from play in their narrow win over St Eunan’s of Letterkenny as they booked a semi-final meeting with Newry Shamrocks
By Paddy Tierney

Ulster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final
Naomh Éanna v Bredagh (Hannahstown, Saturday, 2.30pm)

IT’S a cross-city derby at Hannahstown today with Naomh Éanna and Bredagh set to clash for a place in this year’s Ulster Intermediate final.

Naomh Éanna are just 60-odd minutes away from reaching a second successive provincial final, albeit in a different code, as their hurlers seek to emulate the club’s footballers’ Intermediate success last year.

After their gritty 1-10 to 0-12 win over Derry champions Banagher, expectations are high that the Glengormley side can reach another provincial final, but manager Terence McNaughton insists keeping his players grounded isn’t an issue.

“Banagher would have been one of the favourites to win Ulster this year, but we are just taking each game as it comes,” said McNaughton.

“It was the same when we played Banagher – we just concentrated on our own performance and that’s how I operate.

“Banagher are a seasoned Division One team in Derry, there is no nonsense with them. They’ve some fine hurlers and for us to come away with a victory, you can take great confidence from it.

“You are always a bit concerned about boys getting carried away or complacency setting in, but you have to keep their feet on the ground.

“At the end of the day, St Enda’s are in a position they’ve never been in before and it is new territory for the hurlers talking about Ulster and that.

“But I’m pretty blunt when it comes to boys getting carried away with the sideshows.”

Next year, McNaughton’s side will compete in Division One for the first time while Bredagh remain in Division Three of the Antrim hurling league.

A challenge game between the sides last year gave Simon Wilson – manager with the South Belfast club – a glimpse into what lies in store on Saturday, but he is confident his players can rise to the occasion.

“We played them in a challenge game last year and they beat us well and that was before ‘Sambo’ was with them,” stated the Bredagh manager.

“They are a very well-drilled side, very fit and very physical.

“For them to get out of Division Two and to be playing in Division One next year is a credit to them. It will be a tough ask for us this weekend.

“We were probably underdogs going into the replay against Carryduff and I’d be 90 per cent certain we were underdogs against Castleblayney so maybe the underdogs tag fits well.

“At the end of the day, it was a big achievement for Bredagh to defeat Castleblayney and a few ones in the club were saying it was the club’s first win in Ulster hurling at that level so you never know what can happen.”

Ulster Club Junior Hurling Championship semi-final
Gort na Móna v Newry Shamrocks (Ballela, Saturday, 2.30pm)

GORT Na Móna have already had to deal with confusion surrounding venues in Ulster so far and defender Padraig McHugh admitted he wasn’t sure where exactly Ballela is when he learned of the location of Saturday’s semi-final clash with Newry Shamrocks.

The Turf Lodge men were originally set to face St Eunan’s in Ballybofey earlier this month, but on the week of the game, it was moved to O’Donnell Park – Letterkenny’s home pitch.

A last-ditch winner from Dessie McClean sealed a dramatic 1-14 to 1-13 win for the Gorts.

Having trailed by two points inside the closing 10 minutes, Gort na Móna wouldn’t have cared where their provincial semi-final was, as long as they were in it.

“I was thinking maybe Lurgan would host the semi-finals, but were are just happy to be there,” stated McHugh.

“To be honest, we weren’t happy with our performance against St Eunan’s. I thought we just went through the motions a bit.

“We nearly got caught in the end. Hurling in the winter is different from hurling in the summer.

“We like to throw the ball about but the ball doesn’t bounce up the same way as it would in a summer’s day. You have to adapt and we are going to have to adapt.

“People automatically think because it is an Antrim team playing a Donegal team, you should win handy. It doesn’t always work like that.”

While the Gorts were hot favourites to win in Letterkenny, they won’t carry quite the same burden of expectation against a talented Newry outfit.

The Shamrocks defeated Armagh champions Sean Treacy’s 1-13 to 0-13 last weekend in Crossmaglen.

“Some of us went down and watched their game against Sean Treacys last Saturday and from what I saw, it is going to be another 50/50 game,” said McHugh.

“They have some good hurlers on their team as well. You never really know how the conditions will turn out. It could turn into a battle and, sometimes, you just have to roll up the sleeves and get on with it.”

Please follow and like us: