For Belnaleck sharp shooter Ciaran McBrien, the past few seasons have been of the most frustrating variety with injuries curtailing his ability to perform at his optimum level. But 2017 has seen the attacker free from the injury curse and his performances on the pitch have been nothing short of sensational. In the first round of Ulster against Dundrum McBrien was unmarkable, shooting five points from play in Belnaleck’s comfortable victory away from home over the Down champions.
“I have been lucky this season with injuries and it makes a big difference being able to always train. The fitness levels and everything are just so much better and you just feel very different out on the pitch when you have managed to stay clear of the injuries,” McBrien explained. 
The Art McMurroughs will cross swords with Derry champions, Doire Trasna, this Sunday at Clones with a throw in time down for 12:15 and the inside forward is aware that their sternest test to date is awaiting them.
“Any team that wins the Derry championship is going to be a good side and we know that. We don’t know a massive amount about them except that they are big and physical but then we are too, most of our players are over 6ft,” McBrien stated before adding;
“We will respect them but we are not going in there with any fear. We are confident in our own ability and we fully expect to perform well and compete and if we do that then there is no reason why we can’t progress further.”
Belnaleck were comfortable winners in the first round against Down champions Dundrum and they certainly showed themselves well able for the waters of Ulster;
“We didn’t expect it that easy to be honest and maybe it would have been better had we got a sterner test but on the other hand I think that we just played really well and it shows what we can do,” McBrien said. 
Belnaleck certainly have got things right in the past few months but it was the period after their county final win over Coa that was the most vital according to their star forward;
“To be fair to everyone there has been a massive effort since the county final. We have had five weeks and I don’t think we have ever trained like we have in that time and you can see the difference in how we are playing and especially how we are finishing games. Last season we might have died a bit in the second half of games but we are finishing much stronger now.”
Belnaleck will be picking from a full deck on Sunday with the return of Kane Connor to the fold after his one match suspension and McBrien explained that there is a real sense of strength in depth about the Belnaleck squad at the present time;
“There is serious competition for places. At times this year with the county men missing and other players missing it was difficult but we have everyone back now and we have Kane back from the last game so that is going to make us stronger and every man is pushing each other and you can see the difference that it makes to us.”
Connor, and the Cullen twins, Che and Lee, all have plenty of inter county experience under their belts and after a call up to Rory Gallagher’s training squad McBrien could be following suit in to the county set up. The forward has flirted with squads in the past but is determined to make this opportunity count;
“It’s up to me now. I just have to do everything I can with this chance and make sure I have no regrets and work as hard as I can,” the talented forward concluded. 
For now though McBrien’s full focus is on Belnaleck and producing another stellar performance. If he does they might just be sixty minutes from an Ulster title come quarter to two this Sunday.