THE PERSPECTIVE ON just how unique the pairing for this year’s All Sports Donegal Intermediate Championship final is was provided neatly by Gerard Curran.
The Naomh Colmcille captain was asked about Bundoran, their opponents for Sunday week’s final at O’Donnell Park.
“We know that Brian McEniff is the big man up there, but that’s about it,” came Curran’s response at this evening’s launch of the final at the Villa Rose Hotel in Ballybofey.
Photo caption: Bundoran captain Tommy Hourihan and Naomh Colmcille captain Gerard Curran with match referee Connie Doherty pictured at the Intermediate Final Press Conference. Pic: Gary Foy, newsandsportfiles
Remarkably, these two clubs have never met at any level before.
It’s perhaps a measure of Naomh Colmcille’s rise from the doldrums to the threshold of a step into the senior championship – the reward for the victors of the Intermediate crown.
For Naomh Colmcille, it’s a first-ever appearance in the Intermediate Championship, coming just five years since they clinched the 2010 Junior title following a final replay win over Naomh Padraig, Muff.
Half-back Curran is the captain of the Pairc Colmcille ship that has sailed out of the choppy waters when they looked like they were heading for the Championship’s exit door.
They were trailing 0-8 to 1-0 in a ‘must win’ game against Buncrana at The Scarvey and they were a man down with Alex Devenney having been sent off.
Their Championship was in tatters, only for Joe Donaghy’s goal to ignite the fuse. They won 2-11 to 0-12 and haven’t looked back since.
They wobbled against Gaeil Fhánada last weekend, losing two late points as the semi-final went to a second game, but Sunday’s 3-11 to 1-6 replay win outlined their worth.
“After beating Fanad so well the tails are up, but we’re under no illusions that we’re coming in as underdogs,” Curran said.
“We’re playing a well-established senior team.
“I’ve been playing on the senior team for fifteen years now and I’ve never played Bundoran. We’ll leave it to Francie (Martin), Dougie (Corbett) and James (McGrath) to get a game plan for Bundoran.”
Sunday’s replay came after they let a two-point lead slip in added time in the first game.
“After the first game against Fanad, Francie came in and was very positive,” Curran said.
“He said that in his mind he had no doubt that we could do it. The work has really paid off for us.”
The same year Naomh Colmcille were making waves under Stephen Friel at junior level, Bundoran were on their way to winning the Intermediate title and booking their ticket back into senior football when they overcame Cloughaneely in the final.
Bundoran contested three out of four finals in that era, losing twice to Fanad in 2007 and 2009 before finally getting across the line a year later.
Until last year, the Stars of the Sea remained in senior football, but they were sent down through the trapdoor by Glenfin in a relegation play-off.
Brian Gavigan’s team have been the favourites to land the Cathal McLaughlin Cup since the beginning of the campaign, but they needed a last-ditch point by Jamie Brennan to see off their neighbours, Aodh Ruadh, in the semi-final.
“Everyone was talking about it, about the history between the teams,” captain Tommy Hourihane said of that game in Donegal town.
“It was a tight game. The first half didn’t go according to plan, but we rejigged it and we gave it to them in the second half.
“We have a nice blend of players and we have plenty of talent coming through.”
Hourihane noted the influence of Shane McGowan and touched on the importance of Paul Brennan, who has been added from Melvin Gaels and whose move to the club was subject of much debate in the closed season.
Hourihane said: “Paul Brennan is in and has been a great addition to us. He’s got a great attitude and he’s given us a great boost.”
Connie Doherty of Naomh Conaill has been confirmed as the referee for the final and a Man of the Match trophy has been sponsored by Liam Mailey Trophies in Convoy.
The Intermediate final will be preceded by the Intermediate Reserve Championship final between Gaeil Fhánada, the defending champions, and Buncrana.
The Fanad men have lost a lot of last year’s back but have stormed back to the final.
“We’ve lost ten players to the senior team and we have three retired and another three who have emigrated, but we still have a panel of 32 players there,” noted Seamus McAteer.
Buncrana’s reserves had the presence of Ryan Bradley during their run to the final and the Inishowen men are hoping to bridge trophy gap at The Scarvey.
“We’ve had a few battles this year, but we’ve got through it,” said John Doherty.”We’ve been knocking on the door and we lost to Cloughaneely in the semi-final last year. It would be massive to win it – it’s been a while since we won a title.”
Representatives of Glenswilly and Ardara were also in attendance ahead of this Sunday’s RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Senior Reserve Football Championship final in Ballybofey, the curtain raiser for the SFC final (throw-in 1.45pm).
Both are aiming to win the title for the first time.
Aidy Glackin’s Glenswilly can call on the likes of Brian McDaid and John McFadden, recent members of the Glenswilly senior team
“It’s great to have the experience of those boys, who have played in senior finals in the county and a couple of them in Ulster,” said Glenswilly captain Pat McFadden.
“We have plenty of young fellas who have Division 1 experience in the League this year so we’re looking forward to it.”
Oddly, Ardara have never won a senior reserve title, but with the likes of Stephen Gildea and Johnny Heron rolling back the years, the Pearse Park men are into the decider.
Catain Peter McHugh is another who has senior championship medals from 2000 and 2004.
“At the start of the year our aim was the final,” McHugh said.
“We haven’t got over the line in the last few years and we’ve had a few near misses. We’ve never actually won a Reserve title and it’s named after an Ardara man, John Gallagher, so we’d love to win it.”Tags: