Enniskillen Gaels Manager Simon Bradley knows that his side face the ultimate test when they take on reigning Ulster and All-Ireland champions Kilcoo next Saturday night in the Ulster Club SFC semi-final.

The Gaels overcame Cavan champions Gowna at Brewster Park following a penalty shoot-out on Saturday night, but Kilcoo are likely to be another step up for the Fermanagh champions.

“They are the All-Ireland champions; they were the best team in Ireland last year and from what I saw on Sunday, they are still a pretty good team,” said Bradley, who was in Clones to watch the Magpies defeat Ballybay.

“Their organisation, both in defence and going forward; it’s very obvious that they have played together for such a long time and they have had that success.

“Their physicality and their conditioning is very, very good. The pace they break out of defence at is impressive; they are very happy to sit with 15 behind the ball, but ten seconds later they have seven or eight ahead of the ball, so it is going to be a massive, massive test for us,” he added.

But he stresses that these are the type of games that his squad want to be playing.

“The Enniskillen Gaels players made no secret to me what their ambitions were when I got involved three years ago. This is where they wanted to be – now, whether or not we thought we would be here this quick is another thing – but we are there on merit as far as I’m concerned, and we will be going out to give a very good account of ourselves and see what happens.”

The Enniskillen boss will be hoping that the two-week gap between the games will enable them to get a couple of injuries cleared up, with John Reihill and Brandon Horan among those who picked up knocks, while Bradley says that they will appeal the Red Card issued to Callum Jones.

‘Wait and see’

“Hopefully they will all clear up in time to be available for selection at the end of next week. Luckily enough, we have the two-week break – if it had been this weekend then certainly there would have been one or two of them really struggling to get in, and we will also have to wait and see how the appeal goes with Callum Jones,” he added.

The Gowna game was the current Enniskillen squad’s first foray into Ulster at Senior level and Bradley was delighted with the character they showed in not only coming back from three-down in extra time, but throughout the game.

“I think we should have won the game in normal time, and I would say that Gowna would be thinking to go three-up in extra time, they should have saw it out.

“But the character the boys showed not only in the last couple of minutes, but the whole way through, was very pleasing.

“This was their first time out at Ulster Senior level and they stood up and were counted, and they weren’t bullied, and I thought they gave a really good account of themselves,” he said.

And he went on to praise the efforts of the entire squad in getting them this far, with the substitutes making a positive impact when introduced.

“Eoin [Beacom] came on and of course he got that point at the end, and I thought he responded very well to not starting the game.

“He has been carrying a small knock but we probably could have started him but decided not to. But he came in and when Brandon [Horan] went off he went to midfield and contested the ball.

“But having said that, the other subs that were used as well did very, very well.

“Paddy Cassidy came in and did well, Ethan Beresford kicked a very good point, Conall Quinn hasn’t had much football lately but he made a massive block, and Ciaran Smith of course kicked the winning penalty,” said Bradley.


He also had words of praise for forward Conor Love who fired over a super point to send the game to extra time.

“Conor is playing his best adult football this last three or four months and time and again in big important games he comes up with not only points but just winning the ball and making the right decisions.”

But Bradley was disappointed with the manner of the two goals they conceded.

“We gave away two very poor goals, and we had worked a lot on the fact that we knew Gowna would bring runners from deep and both of their goals came that way, particularly the second one, although I felt it was an obvious square ball which was missed by the umpires and the referee.


“But the way they cut through was very disappointing, and we will definitely have to tighten that up against Kilcoo because they are very good at that as well.”

In the end the game was decided on penalties and Bradley felt confident that they would come through.

“When it went to penalties you could call it a lottery, but I was very confident when it went to penalties from what I had seen at training that we had seven or eight boys who were very eager to take penalties, and were confident in themselves.

“I was out beside them, and they were very relaxed about it. Each one of them called where they were putting it and they went and did it,” he said.

And now the work has begun on preparing to face Kilcoo.

“It will be hard work in the video room, and hard work on the pitch, but not necessarily exhausting work.

“The recovery process is very important now for us because that Gowna game was very intense on a very heavy pitch, so we won’t be doing a whole lot of intense stuff, but we will certainly be looking at Kilcoo and trying to figure out how we can beat them,” said Bradley.