Intermediate Championship Final Preview
Grange haven’t won an Intermediate Championship since 1993 but this current team are presented with a great opportunity to lift the trophy on Sunday. Leading them all the way has been their big midfielder/full forward Ethan Rafferty and he will hope to play a starring role for his side in the final.
“It’s been a while since we were in a final, so there’s been a nice buzz, everybody is in good tune around the club. There are a few banners going up and the usual sort of things. Even going to mass and everyone’s talking about it and congratulating us on reaching the final and giving us their best wishes to hopefully go on and do the job”.
While the supporters can get caught up in the hype and the excitement of the occasions, Rafferty insists the players are just concentrating on the job in hand, “We have quite a young team and they’re grounded lads so we’re just completely focusing on our training at the minute and focusing on the match”.
“We’ve played Shane O’Neill’s before so we know it’s going to be a battle. We enjoyed the moment of the win last Sunday (their semi final victory over Clan na Gael), and we were very quickly back to training, we know we have to keep it grounded and just keep playing the way we have been”.
While the sides have already met in this year’s championship, Rafferty claims that game will have no relevance come Sunday, “It’s completely a new game, we played them in the group stages and I think most teams would agree, the group stages just don’t have an overly championship feel to it”.
“That was a nip and tuck game the whole way through it. It’s a completely new game, we’re not really reading into what happened the last day because we have come on since then and Shane O’Neill’s have come on leaps and bounds as well so we’re just hoping to put in a performance and hopefully we get there in the end”.
While the Grange will carry the label of favourites heading into the contest, Rafferty and his men are unconcerned by it, “It hasn’t really been mentioned, we don’t listen to them sort of things, we know what Shane O’Neill’s can bring and we know what we can bring so we’re completely just focusing on ourselves”.
“It’s been a sole focus for us this year, just focusing on us and trying to get the performance. So we haven’t really took much heed of that (being favourites), we’ve just been focusing on a few good sessions in the two weeks between the semi final and the final and really giving whatever we can on Sunday and see what way we get on.”.
While Grange’s strongest line is certainly their forward division, Rafferty pays tribute to their work rate as well as the other players on the field for their forwards good performances, “The fact we’ve got one very attacking midfielder in Diarmuid (Rafferty) and then we’ve got Andrew (O’Hagan) who’s a very hard worker for us in midfield, it gives us an overall balance there”.
“We do have some star quality forwards there but the reason they’re playing so well at the minute is because they’re working hard. We’re all trying our best just to work as hard each match and some of the boys have been putting in big performances and it’s just down to a good work ethic”.