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Sarsfield’s ace McKenna braced for “toughest test” against Rossa

Sarsfield’s star Niall McKenna has returned from England and is ready to play a key role for the club’s senior footballers and hurlers this season Sarsfield’s star Niall McKenna has returned from England and is ready to play a key role for the club’s senior footballers and hurlers this season
Sarsfield’s star Niall McKenna has returned from England and is ready to play a key role for the club’s senior footballers and hurlers this season Sarsfield’s star Niall McKenna has returned from England and is ready to play a key role for the club’s senior footballers and hurlers this season
By Michael Jackson

NIALL McKenna says he is relishing the prospect of putting his shoulder to the wheel for Sarsfield’s again this season after spending last year in England.
The dual star helped Warwickshire hurlers to last season’s Nicky Rackard Cup decider at Croke Park where they were defeated by Donegal in the final.
McKenna was often a spectator at games last season and admitted he found it tough watching on as the Paddies struggled to match their exploits from their stunning 2017 campaign when they annexed the Junior Football Championship and the Intermediate Hurling Championship.
“I missed it. I was good being over there and playing for Warwickshire,” said McKenna.
“At the same time, I wanted to be back home. It was hard watching Sarsfield’s playing when I came back knowing I couldn’t play Championship. It was hard to take. Our aim has to be to try and have a year like we had two years ago.
“I think we should have a good shout. The Intermediate (hurling) grade looks tough this year, but with the squad we have we should be capable of going well again.”
On the football front, Sarsfield’s face neighbours Rossa at the Bear Pit tonight (7pm) with both teams bidding to build on their opening victories.
Sarsfield’s defeated St Pat’s Lisburn by four points in round one in a repeat of the 2017 JFC final while Rossa laid down a serious marker by defeating Aldergrove 2-18 to 0-12 in their Division Two opener, so McKenna is expecting a tough battle this evening.
“This will be the hardest game we have in the division,” said McKenna.
“We have to play as well as we can and just worry about ourselves and don’t think too much about Rossa.
“No matter who we play, we would fancy our chances at home so we have to play to the best of our ability and see where it takes us.
“We had a good win over St Pat’s in our first game so we have to try and build that from.”
Rossa manager Sean Fleming, meanwhile, expressed his satisfaction with their emphatic win over Aldergrove, but stressed that they will have plenty of competition for promotion this season.
“ We were very pleased with it because when both teams were in Division One it was always a one-point game between us. It was good to start the season off with a win against a decent team,” said Fleming.
“We hoped to make a quick escape from Division Two the last time we were in it and it didn’t happen for seven or eight years.
“Just because you’ve dropped down from Division One doesn’t give you a right to think you’ll go straight back up. You’ve a lot of good quality teams in the division and they want the same thing we do.”
Fleming, like McKenna, is anticipating a close contest when Rossa and Sarsfield’s clash this evening.
“It wouldn’t matter if one of the teams were in Division One and the other were in Division Three, it is going to be a very close game,” added the Rossa boss, who is sweating on the fitness of Michael Armstrong, Richard Gowdy and Thomas Morgan.
“This group of lads from both teams have grown up with each other. They would have faced each other at U12, U14 and at minor and they were always very close games.
“Sarsfield’s always play a good brand of strong, physical, competitive football. It is a local derby, so there’ll be no quarter given on either side.”

Tonight’s fixtures (all games 7pm):

Division One
Portglenone v Gort na Móna
St Teresa’s v Ahoghill
St Gall’s v Naomh Éanna
Cargin v Lámh Dhearg
St John’s v St Brigid’s
Aghagallon v Creggan

Division Two
Sarsfield’s v Rossa
Aldergrove v Davitt’s
Dunloy v Rasharkin
Tír na nÓg v Moneyglass
Glenravel v Ballymena

Division Three
St Paul’s v Pearse’s
St Agnes’ v Éire Óg
St Malachy’s v St Comgall’s
Ardoyne v O’Donnell’s
Laochra Loch Lao v Ballycastle

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