WHILE expecting a very tough battle against Down and Ulster champions Loughinisland in the All-Ireland intermediate club championship semi-final in Breffni Park, Cavan, tomorrow (Sunday), Hollymount/Carramore manager Tom Connelly is nevertheless confident that his charges can rise to the occasion, writes Aiden Henry.
“There is little doubt but that we are all looking forward to the All-Ireland semi-final, and that includes myself, players and supporters,” he told The Connaught Telegraph.
“It promises to be another massive occasion for the club. It will be our first time ever in an All-Ireland semi-final and with the huge prize on offer of a day out in Croke Park, we just can’t wait for it to come.”
Connelly said the players have trained very hard since the Connaught final and that while they have a few injury worries, he expects to have a full squad to choose from tomorrow.
“They are all in very good shape. Darren and Stephen (Coen) picked up injuries in the Connaught decider and while they have been unable to train a lot since, they are now recovering very well and I expect they will be able to line out.”
The flooding problems experienced in the past few months hit south Mayo hard, so it was difficult for the club to get pitches for training and to play challenge games. “But we managed fairly well,” said Connelly, who explained that they managed to fit in three good challenge matches. “Two were against Ardnaree, who themselves are preparing, like us, for an All-Ireland semi-final tomorrow, and the other was against Castlebar Mitchels, who will be playing in their semi-final next month. All three were very competitive games and it was a great benefit to us all.”
What about the opponents? “I attended their Ulster final when they played Bundoran. It was a good game and strongly contested. Loughinisland are a big, strong, physical team. They work hard for one another and are a very fit side. They also have a number of very skilful players in every sector, especially up front, where they have a number of very dangerous forwards. At the back they mark very tight.
“But I feel we are more than capable of matching them. Indeed, if we can reproduce our best form I would be very confident of coming out on top. It will all come down to how we perform on the day.
“At this stage we just want to get on with the game and hopefully we can come out on top. If everything goes according to plan I feel we will.”
The match will be played at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. Throw-in is 2 p.m.