The Intermediate Championship quarter finals will take place over the weekend when Wolfe Tones meet Tir na nOg on Friday evening while St Paul’s and Shane O’Neill’s will line out facing one another on Sunday leaving Clan na Gael against Crossmaglen IIs on Monday evening.
A great weekend of football is expected with the tie of the round coming in Keady on Sunday with last year’s beaten finalists Mullaghbawn meeting Grange in a promises to be a rip-roaring contest. Both teams will fancy their chances of entering the next stage of the competition and Mullaghbawn’s Eddie English insists the league champions won’t be heavy favourites heading into the game.
“I wouldn’t even call ourselves favourites, I’d say going into the likes of this weekend’s game we see the talent playing against Grange you’ve the likes of Miceal and Cathal McKenna, Ethan (Rafferty), Ben Toal so I think we’re probably going in as underdogs this weekend. We’re not even looking past this weekend, it’s going to be a hell of a battle and we’re going to be up for it”.
Mullaghbawn topped an extremely competitive Intermediate League, winning nine of their 14 games and English sees this as great preparation for the championship, “Winning the league gave us a good platform for going into the championship. Playing against the Lurgan teams such as Clans, St Paul’s our rivals Shane’s; it gave us a good platform. We had tough games against the likes of St Paul’s throughout the year; they beat us up in Mullaghbawn. Most importantly we’re glad to be back in the first division as well winning the league”.
Turning their attention to this weekend Mullaghbawn have a great history to look back on and their corner forward alludes to the ambition of repeating this feat with a new generation, “I think the last time we won a championship with our club was in ’95 and we’re walking about every day seeing them lads and as a team we want to go on and replicate winning the championship ourselves. Peter (McDonnell) was the manager then in ’95 and he’s the manager now and we know how lucky we are to have him”.
While the former Armagh manager McDonnell is a strong link to the past, the new generation feature plenty of up and coming talent that will boost Mullaghbawn football for the next few years, “We got relegated from division 2B in 2017 and to have the likes of Shea (Loye), Eoghan McDonnell who has been on the county even Decky Loye as well, Gerard McCann, Colm Tierney, Paddy Tiernan, them boys have helped us leaps and bounds, they’ve pushed the club on massively in terms of what direction we want to go to”.
Last years beaten finalists look to make amends for last season but English insists his side can’t look past the Grange this Sunday, “losing a final is like losing someone in a sense, not as extreme but it hurt us massively the fact we got beat by a point, we know we didn’t play well as a team it was a game that we left behind us. We’ve that motivation but the biggest motivation for us this weekend is to get over the Grange game. We know how tough it is so we’re not even thinking about finals, we’re just thinking about the Grange game on Sunday”.