GAA Football

Strong start essential for Drumlane in Ulster junior decider insists captain Connolly

Drumlane's Ryan Connelly in action during his side's Ulster Club JFC semi-final win over Newtownbutler in Clones Picture: Philip Walsh
Francis Mooney

DRUMLANE captain Ryan Connolly believes his side must get off to a strong start in tomorrow’s Ulster Club JFC final in order to put a strong Stewartstown outfit on the back foot.

The Cavan men have played some highly effective football in the current series, but struggled to maintain the momentum at key stages.

They squeezed past Craigbane and Clones with just a point to spare on both occasions, and while a semi-final clash with Newtownbutler was won comfortably, issues of consistency need to be addressed.

“We have started slowly and finished slowly in a lot of our games, so we need to look at that,” said Connolly.

“Stewartstown have been shooting the lights out all year, by all accounts. They have good forwards and throughout the field they appear to be strong, so we have a lot of fires to put out this weekend.”

Drumlane are bidding to become the second successive Cavan club to win the provincial junior title, following Denn’s triumph last year, but Stewartstown, winners back in 2004, are looking to maintain a strong Tyrone record in the competition.

“You only have to look at the history of this competition, it’s generally won by Tyrone or Monaghan teams.

“Club football in Tyrone is a very high standard, and most of those lads will have played MacRory Cup football, so they’ll be well versed and well used to championship football.”

The Cavan side has been playing league football in Division Two, band will compete in the intermediate championship next year, but Conolly has no excuses for last season’s relegation.

“We are where we are for a reason, but we have a very young team, so the sooner you get out of junior football and get back to playing at a higher level, the better, especially for the development of those young lads.

“That was the number one priority at the start of the year, to get back to intermediate championship football and push on from there.”

And a strong run in the Ulster series has opened up new opportunities for a club that had never won a game at provincial level prior to this year.

They have come through three ties to get to tomorrow’s decider, having been drawn in the preliminary round.

“It was the long route, but probably playing games at this time of year is more beneficial than training.

“We had a tough one the first day against the Derry champions Craigbane, a big physical team.

“We just scraped through by a point, and the same against Clones, and then we beat Newtownbutler, the Fermanagh champions.”

“There’s a good incentives there, but if you start looking at All-Irelands, and thinking about being Ulster champions, you’re going to get caught. So we’ll not look any further forward than one ‘o clock on Saturday.”

GAA Football