Enniskillen Gaels meet Ramor United of Cavan in the Ulster Club Minor Championship this Saturday. The game will take place at Woodlands, Belfast at 5:45pm on a 3G surface. This is the third year in a row that the Gaels will be the Fermanagh representatives in the tournament. In both 2015 and 2016 they won one game before crashing out and Enniskillen manager, Brendan Dooris, will be hoping that his side can improve on that showing this year.
“I think we know all about the competition now and what it takes. It is obviously a big step up from the Fermanagh championship and we have to be ready for that but there is a lot of experience in the squad,” he stated.
For seven Gaels players, this will be their third year involved at minor level while a further six have experience from last season. Brandon Horan and Eoin Beacom form a formidable midfield. With both players over six foot, it gives the Gaels a real physical presence around the middle while both players are comfortable on the ball with Beacom well able to kick scores from distance.
In defence Cassidy twins, Patrick and Johnny are two uncompromising defenders with Johnny a real driving force when he carries the ball from the back. In attack, the Gaels are blessed with lots of speed and guile. Callum Jones, John Reihill, Ronan Beattie and Ronan Quinn all have bags of experience at this level and well able to take a score in a forward line where the workload is shared evenly and not left to one or two players to carry the threat.
It has been over four months since the Gaels have kicked a competitive ball however and the management has tried to mitigate this long lay off with a series of challenge games while the Under 21 club championship in Fermanagh has also afforded many of the players valuable game time.
“It is a long time between the end of the Fermanagh final, which was the end of July, and the Ulster campaign. In previous years we have taken quite a break from training and I always felt it was hard to pick things up again so this year we just took five weeks off and then went back at it and I think it has worked better,” Dooris explained before adding that he believes the key to success in the tournament will be how the Gaels have improved in the physical stakes;
“I think one of the things we have found when we have lost in Ulster has been the difference in physicality and we would like to think that we have closed that gap somewhat this season.”
The former Gaels net-minder is however concerned about the 3G playing surface that will host the game on Saturday but again no stone has been left unturned in their attempt to have the squad ready for every eventuality.
“The surface is not ideal and for forwards in particular if you don’t get to the bounce the ball can be gone. We have been doing a lot of training at the Bawnacre and the Forum so we can get used to the surface because it plays a big part.”
In terms of the opposition on Saturday the Gaels manager got a chance to run his eye over Ramor United in their county decider and he knows they represent a stern test for his young side this weekend;
“We watched the play in the Cavan final and they were impressive. They like to run the ball and in Ronan Patterson they have a very strong player who can really go at you so we will have to be ready for that.”