Belcoo manager Peter Clarke accepts that his side will be underdogs when they travel to Celtic Park to take on Derry champions Newbridge in the Ulster Intermediate Championship quarter-final but he stresses that they are going there to win.
The Fermanagh champions showed game on game improvement throughout their run to the county title and Clarke knows that they are going to have to step it up again if they are to book their place in the semi-finals of the competition against Paddy Bradley’s side.
“Club football is very strong in Derry and Newbridge have won every competition that they have entered this year. I watched them in the last round against Shercock and they were very strong. They have a good mix with Derry minors, U21s and players who have been around the Derry senior squad so there is no doubt they will be a strong intermediate team and manager Paddy Bradley is aiming for an Ulster title with them,” said Clarke.
And Clarke knows that his side will need to reach new highs for the season if they are to make it through to the last four of the competition.
“We have been underdogs throughout our championship campaign and we will be again against Newbridge but we will relish that and what we have done during our run in Fermanagh is improved from one game to the next and we know we will have to step it up again on Saturday when we enter Ulster,” he added.
Clarke and assistant manager Terry McCann have enjoyed success in this arena before having led Lisnaskea Emmetts not only to an Ulster Intermediate title but All Ireland glory in 2011 and he stresses that opportunities such as this don’t come around too often so it is vital that Belcoo grasp the chance when it is in front of them.
“Ulster Club football doesn’t come around too often, it is ten years since Belcoo last played in it so you have to seize the moment. You have to go there full of belief and positivity and with the attitude that we can win the game,” he commented.
Belcoo will need though to be right on top of their game if they are to push a Newbridge side who produced a strong second half performance in their 13 point win over Shercock.
Defensively they are strong with goalkeeper Michael O’Neill, Conor McGrogan and Ciaran Brooks key players. Michael Bateson and Conor Doherty are an impressive midfield pairing and they have plenty of scoring options in the shape of Danny Mulholland, Eamon Burke, Mark McGrogan and Ryan McElhone.
The O’Rahillys are going to need big performances all over the pitch if they are to succeed with Niall Leonard and Niall McGovern important players through the spine of the defence.
Brian Cox’s return from Australia was pivotal in their championship run and further forward Johnny Feeley and Paul McGrath will be looked to contribute on the scoreboard.
“They are a mobile, running team and if we let them play they can hurt you on the board so we are going to have to disrupt them and the work rate is going to have to be very high. It is crucial that we stay in the game which is something that we managed to do against Lisnaskea when things weren’t going our way. We’re under no illusions that it is going to take a big performance and scores are going to be pivotal. However, we have players throughout our lines who have quality and experience and I have great belief in this team. It’s the next part of the journey for us and we are looking forward to it,” added Clarke.