All roads lead to Pairc Elser Newry this Sunday as Belnaleck take on Down champions Dundrum in the quarter final of the Ulster Junior Club Championship.
Belnaleck secured their place in the Provincial series thanks to an impressive victory over Coa in the Fermanagh decider while they got the better of the O’Dwyers a second time to secure the division three league title just a few weeks ago.
It is fair to say, then, that there is no shortage of momentum for the Art McMurroughs as they make the long trip to Newry but they will be meeting a team, in the shape of Dundrum, who themselves have no shortage of positivity coming in to the game.
They demolished Bright GAC in the Down final and on Sunday something will have to give as these teams go in search of a spot in a provincial semi final.
Dundrum cantered to their final win on a score of 0-14 to 1-02 with Down ace Paul McComiskey a first half sub for the winners kicking 0-04 in the victory. McComiskey will no doubt start on Sunday and Belnaleck manager, Gerry Flanagan is under illusion as to the quality in the opposition;
“Obviously they have McComiskey who played in the All Ireland final for Down in 2010 but they have a lot more good players apart from him and I would say they are very strong up the middle with a powerful midfield,” the Leitrim native stated.
He also drew attention to Kyle Glavin at corner forward, who shot the first three points of the Down final, as a player who will need some watching.
“As they say, we are in bonus territory now but we have been going well lately and have nothing to fear at all. We are looking forward to it,” Flanagan explained.
Belnaleck have certainly timed their season well saving their best form for the past two months, something that Flanagan was glad to agree with;
“The league was testing at times but once the championship started and we had everyone to pick from you can see the difference that it makes. It can be very difficult for a Junior club to be missing three county men like we were for the starred games.”
For Belnaleck the key to the game may just be securing enough possession around the middle of the field and feeding a very potent forward line where Bryan Owens and Ciaran McBrien have been impressive. Both are sure to come in for special attention from a Dundrum defence that have been mean and miserable to date in their championship matches.
Belnaleck will be without the influential Kane Connor who is suspended following his dismissal against Coa in the county decider and it is sure that both his defensive qualities and ability to set up the play will be missed by Flanagan’s men.
Lee Cullen Che Cullen, Sean Lewsley and Ronan Quigley have all been performing well for the Art McMurroughs however and they will need to maintain that form if they are to win through to the last four.
For Belnaleck boss, Flanagan, he revealed that his side will be keeping things straight forward on Sunday and he sees work rate as the primary weapon in his team’s arsenal.
“I think at club level in particular there is no point in complicating Gaelic Football too much. We will be looking to keep things simple and to work hard from first minute to last.”
All to play for then in what promises to be a tight encounter.