Tyrone and Kerry rivalry renewed as Moy face An Ghaeltacht in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club semi-final
The fierce rivalry between Tyrone and Kerry will take on a new dimension tomorrow when Moy face An Ghaeltacht in the All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final at Portlaoise.
And some of the combatants who clashed in epic Croke Park clashes of the Red Hands and the Kingdom will do battle again at O'Moore Park, where Sean Cavanagh is set to face Marc O Se.
It's a historic occasion for the Tyrone and Ulster champions as they bid for a Croke Park appearance in their first season in the provincial and All-Ireland series.
But they face a huge task against the Munster champions, who have been operating as a Senior club, despite their official Intermediate status.
While Moy have scraped through the majority of their seven championship games to date with little to spare, the Kerry men have been racking up big score-lines, and scored a resounding 22 points win over St Senan's of Limerick in the Munster final.
Cavanagh and his brother Colm will lead the Moy charge, along with top scorer Harry Loughran, and they have other quality performers in skipper Eunan Deeney, Ryan Coleman, Thomas Conlon, Niall Conlon and Thomas McNicholl.
Former Kerry star Marc O Se operates as player-manager, using his experience to guide a talented An Ghaeltacht team in which Dara O Se is the attacking star.
There's also a scoring threat from Brian O Beaglaoich, Rob O Se and Tomas O Se in a team that likes to play its football the Kerry way, with an onus on kick-passing and handling skills.
“It just shows you what we're up against. We're under no illusions as to the size of the task,” said Moy's joint manager Gavin McGilly.
“They are a serious outfit, and I'm sure they'll have ambitions within the next year or two to push the Crokes for a shot at a senior title, as opposed to the intermediate.
But McGilly insists his players are ready for the challenge, and he has every confidence in their ability to reach the Croke Park decider.
“You have got to back your own players, and the quality that we have in our team, in the likes of Sean and Colm and Harry Loughran, and other players too, we have good players in our team.
“We're just hoping that they produce a team display that will be the best they have ever produced. That's ultimately what it's going to take to beat these boys.
“We were good in wee patches in the Ulster campaign, but I suppose we haven't put together a full 60 minutes yet, and if there's every going to be a day for it, it will have to be this day, because An Ghaeltacht are probably a step above anything that we have played to date.
“By the same token, we're really looking forward to it.”
They will have massive support at O'Moore Park from a community that has really embraced the adventure and given the team the backing they need.
“It gave people a good conversation filler as they meet up over Christmas,” said McGilly.
“They're talking about the Moy playing in an All-Ireland semi-final, and t's very important that that's not forgotten, the prestige that comes with representing Tyrone and representing Ulster.
“We'll be going down there to really give a good account of ourselves, and we'll see where that takes us.”
Now the Moy players are beginning to appreciate the fervour and passion that drives clubs like Crossmaglen and Slaughtneil as they chase their own special dream.
“You would touch base with football people, the likes of Crossmaglen and Slaughtneil people, and they'll tell you straight out that there is nothing like the Ulster Club competition.
“What it does for a community is superb, it just gives everybody a total focus, a total togetherness, and it's all people want to talk about.
“And for the future players, the players of the next generation, it inspires them to want to represent the Moy in the next ten, 15 years.
“And that's ultimately what the GAA is about.”