Football/Soccer

Slaughtneil are a 'phenomenal' side admits Nemo Rangers forward Paddy Gumley

Paddy Gumley was in top form as Nemo Rangers dethroned Kerry kingpins Dr Croke's in last November's Munster final at Pairc Ui Rinn. Picture by Sportsfile

CHATTING to some friends in the know a few months back, Paddy Gumley was left in no doubt about the size of the challenge facing Nemo Rangers when they take on Slaughtneil in tomorrow’s All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final.

A native of Redhills in Cavan, the veteran forward starred for his adopted club in their Munster final win over reigning All-Ireland kingpins Dr Croke’s last November, and is gearing up for the biggest game of his life in Portlaoise.

Gumley has followed the Slaughtneil story in recent years, and was hugely impressed by their Ulster semi-final victory against Kilcar in particular.

That was as tough a game as the Derry champions faced en route to claiming a third provincial crown in the space of four years, with Cavan Gaels a distant second best in the decider.

Many of the Gaels players would be good friends of Gumley, and there was only one topic of conversation when they met up at Christmas.

“I’d know Seanie [Johnston] and Micheal Lyng, Jason Reilly. Gerald Pierson is a good mate of mine and he said Jason said they’d probably beat a lot of county teams,” said the 35-year-old.

“They were just blown away by them. There was no qualms about the result whatsoever – they were just saying ‘wow, what a team’.

“They’re a phenomenal side, very shrewd, astute on the ball, they don’t give away possession, they’re clinical. That Kilcar game, they didn’t have a wide until well into it.

“You always want to test yourself against the best and see where you’re at. Even though you’d love to go out and score 10 points, you know that’s not going to happen.

Whatever way it goes, it will be nice to say ‘I played against that team when they were in their pomp’.”

Slaughtneil start as odds-on favourites with the bookies but, if Nemo’s performance against Croke’s is anything to go by, there will be little to choose at O’Moore Park.

With seven All-Ireland titles and 16 Munster crowns to their name, Nemo have serious pedigree at this level and Gumley says the buzz around the club has gradually grown ahead of the big day.

He continued: “Everyone’s looking forward to it, training the house down.

“In Nemo, it’s a given. Not for the current team, but the lads that are over us – the likes of Larry, Joe [both Kavanagh] and Steven [O’Brien].

“To them it’s normal enough, whereas for the likes of myself it’s different. It’s a challenge for me as a footballer who didn’t get to play a whole pile at the top level.

“This is the best chance I’ll probably ever get to see where I’m at as a footballer.”

IN TOMORROW’S IRISH NEWS

From being told it was all over to standing one step away from an All-Ireland final, don’t miss Paddy Gumley’s amazing story

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