Pulsating game in store as Calry and Easkey battle it out
Published 24/09/2013 | 05:40
Easkey and Calry/St Joseph's will both be hoping to stay on course for a return to the big time when they meet in Sunday's second semi-final at Markievicz Park.
Both clubs have proud traditions but they haven't featured in the hunt for honours in recent seasons.
Now, with a county final appearance tantalisingly close, the scene is set for a pulsating encounter.
Easkey came out on top when the sides met in the League earlier in the season.
But both managers, Easkey's Noel McGuire, and Calry's Aidan McConnon, insist that League form counts for nothing when it comes to Championship football.
Easkey will probably start as slight favourites, if only for their greater experience, but both teams have shown impressive form during the course of the season and it's an extremely difficult one to call.
In his first year as manager, Noel McGuire has given the Easkey squad a new impetus.
And he's making a big contribution on the field of play as well.
Dessie Sloyan, whose role as manager of the club's minor team has helped the younger lads make the transition to the senior grade, is still a key player for the West Sligo side.
And other experienced players such as Brendan Rolston and county midfielder, Eugene Mullen, who is expected to be fit for Sunday's semi-final, are also influential figures.
Easkey have also brough through a number of talented youngsters, among them Jack Scott and Kevin Duffy, both of whom have been very impressive this season.
Declan Brennan missed the quarter-final win over St. Pat's and is in a race against time to be fit for the Calry clash.
"It took us a little while to find our form this year," reports the Easkey manager.
"We lost to St. Pat's in the group stages of the Championship but beat them when we met again in the quarter-final.
"That reflects our improvement and hopefully we can keep the momentum going on Sunday"
Calry drew with local rivals, Drumcliffe, in the opening round but have improved with every outing since then.
And their manager is delighted with the team's progress.
"The average age of full-back line is 21 years while the overall average age of the team is 23 years.
"In Championship terms, that's very young so we've had to learn a lot along the way.
"We encourage the young lads to go out and express themselves.
"We like to play an open brand of football and I think our scoring rate in this year's Championship underlines that approach.
"We probably wouldn't have been expected to get this far but we're there on merit"
Glen and Michael Cryan and Paul Melvin are available for Sunday's game, meaning that Calry have a full squad to choose from.
"We had injury problems in the early part of the year and our last game against St. Michael's was the first time we had the luxury of emptying the bench," explains the Calry boss.
"It's a great boost to have everybody available at this stage of the season."