There is no let up for newly crowned Donegal and All-Ireland Gaeltacht champions, Naomh Conaill, who are in big game action for the third weekend in-a-row this Sunday.
They face Tyrone champions, Trillick, in the quarter-final of the Ulster Club Senior Championship in Sean MacCumhaill Park. (Throw-in 2.30 pm).
Naomh Conaill capped a glorious six days on Saturday when they were crowned All-Ireland Gaeltacht champions with an eight point victory, 1-11 to 0-6, over Kilcar, in the re-scheduled All-Ireland final in Ardara.
The previous Sunday they defeated St Eunan’s by a point in the Donegal Championship final.
“It was brilliant to have the game at the weekend,” insisted Martin Regan, the Naomh Conaill boss.
“It is difficult the week after the county final to get going again. I remember the week after we won it in 2005 we played Malin in a league promotion game and they hammered us off the park.
“And after we won again in 2010, I remember we went up to Errigal Ciaran for a challenge game and again we were hammered so we did not want our next game after the county final to be our first game in Ulster.
“For that reason we were delighted to have the Gaeltacht final and it will have shaken off the cobwebs.”
Naomh Conaill wrapped up their county championship celebrations the Tuesday night after their final win over St Eunan’s. And Regan had his squad back training on the Tuesday night and they trained again on Thursday night ahead of Saturday’s All-Ireland Gaeltacht final with Kilcar.
Once the final whistle went on Saturday in Ardara and Leo McLoone was presented with the All-Ireland Gaeltacht trophy, the Naomh Conaill focus switched to the Tyrone champions and Sunday in Ballybofey.
“We may have had a hectic schedule in recent weeks but we are really looking forward to playing in Ulster and getting a crack at Trillick,” said Regan.
However, the Naomh Conaill boss also admitted that he had been working on the Trillick game immediately after the county final.
“We have watched Trillick on a few dvds of a number of their games and Cathal (Corey) knows them inside out. We will look at a few more dvds over the next few days and hopefully by the end of the week we will be well versed and well ready for them.”
Those dvds will tell him that Trillick are a well rounded and balanced outfit with four of Mickey Harte’s seniors of 2015 in their line-up. They are the Donnelly brothers, Mattie and Richard and the Brennan brothers, Rory and Lee. They also have the vastly experienced Damien Gormley - brother of former Tyrone star Jody Gormley - who is playing in his 18th championship season for the club.
The Brennans along with full-back Ray Kelly and full-forward Dara Gallagher were members of this year’s Red Hands All-Ireland winning U-21 team.
“It would be great to get a run in the Ulster Championship but we are not looking past Trillick. If we can get over Trillick we will only be an hour away from an Ulster final. But for this week all our focus is on Trillick and nothing else,” insisted the Naomh Conaill boss.
Naomh Conaill put the All-Ireland Gaeltacht celebrations on hold on Saturday evening and Regan had his squad back training on Monday. They were due to train last night Wednesday and will train again tomorrow night.
The manager has reported no major injury concerns though they will be without the suspended teenage sensation Eoghan McGettigan, sent off in the county final.
Trillick’s run to a first Tyrone championship success in 29 years has been the story of the year in the Red Hand county. Beaten Intermediate finalists last year, Trillick have left the pundits scratching their heads with a number of big wins in this year’s senior championship including the defeat of one of the pre-championship favourites Coalisland in the semi-final. They also defeated a highly fancied Killyclogher in the final.
However, despite their impressive run to that first senior crown since 1986, they may find an experienced and battle-hardened Naomh Conaill a tough nut to crack in MacCumhaill Park.
Verdict: Naomh Conaill