St Eunans are making their first foray in the Ulster Hurling championship this Sunday when they host Gort Na Mona from Antrim in O’Donnell Park. (Throw-in 12.45 pm)
The game is a first round tie in the Ulster Junior Hurling Championship. St Eunans are the Donegal Senior Hurling Championship runners-up following their 1-16 to 1-8 defeat by Setanta. That was back at the end of August.
“It is great to be still playing hurling into October and we are really looking forward to Sunday’s game,” said St Eunans manager, Tom Hennessy (pictured)
Every dark cloud has a silver lining and St Eunans defeat by Naomh Conaill in the Donegal Senior Championship semi-final on Sunday means dual stars Conor and Niall O’Donnell, Conor Parke, Brian MacIntyre and Sean McVeigh, who all featured against Setanta in the county final, are available this weekend.
“My heart went out to the boys last weekend against Glenties. It was a case of so near and yet so far.
“We basically left them to the football team since the county final and the rest of the squad trained away on their own. I haven’t spoken to the boys since Sunday, I wanted to give them space
“But bar injuries we hope to have them all back training tomorrow night (Wednesday). Fitness won’t be a problem, it is just about getting a hurl in their hands to get rid of the rustiness.
“It is great to have them and they give the team and squad a great boost.”
Gort Na Mona from Belfast won the Antrim Junior championship. They defeated St Pauls 0-20 to 0-14 in the Antrim final.
“Gort Na Mona are a good junior side. They were favourites for the Antrim championship and they lived up to that billing with their six point win over St Pauls.
“But we have a good side too. We played Setanta in the Donegal final and we matched them for much of the game and Setanta are one of the best Intermediate teams in Ulster.”
St Eunans have a good mix of youth and experience, Colm Flood, Conor O’Grady and Kevin Kealy, key men in the lineup, are members of the Donegal senior hurling squad.
Tom Hennessy also has former Donegal senior players Colm Breathanach and Eugene Organ in his squad.
Preparations have somewhat been hindered by the absence of the dual players. But nonetheless the rest of the squad trained away. They warmed up for Sunday’s first tound clash with a challenge game against Tyrone club Naomh Colmcille.
Tom Hennessy admitted his biggest difficulty is changing a mindset and the fact they are playing the Antrim champions.
“If we can get it out of their heads they are playing the Antrim champions and focus on their own game and their ability I firmly believe we have a great chance. Just because they are from Donegal does not mean they cannot win. As I see it and I have watched Gort Na Mona there is no reason why we cannot win on Sunday.”