SLIGO INTERMEDIATE champions, Bunninadden, will be at full strength for their eagerly-awaited Connacht Club Championship semi-final showdown with St. Aiden's, Roscommon, at Kiltoom on Sunday.
The South Sligo side report a clean bill of health following their triumphant domestic campaign and are adopting a very positive approach as they prepare for Sunday's assignment.
"It's new territory for us but the prospect of reaching a Connacht final is a great incentive and we're looking forward to the challenge", said Club Chairman, Kevin Frain
Bunninadden won the Sligo senior title in 2000 before going through a transitional period. This year, however, there have been encouraging indications that the club is poised for a bright future.
They were very impressive in the Intermediate grade, going through the Championship with an unbeaten run, before clinching the title in impressive fashion, defeating Drumcliffe/Rosses Point 1-7 to 0-6 in the final.
The squad took a deserved beak after the county final but they've been back training for the past few weeks and are ready to give the Connacht campaign a real go.
Under manager, Gerry Perry, and selectors, John O'Flaherty and Francie Dowd, the squad has put in a huge effort throughout the year. And the support from the off-the-field team has been invaluable as well, from longtime sponsors Peter Gallagher and Richard Brennan, to club officials and under-age coaches, it's been a huge team effort.
"Sometimes we feel we're fighting against the odds because we're such a small club but we've got great people involved, on and off the pitch, and that is the real strength of the club',. explains Kevin Frain.
The talented Vincent Frizzell adds dynamic movement and lethal scoring power to a Bunninadden attack which also includes potential matchwinners in Joe Rogers, goal poacher, Mark Gormley, and Kenneth and Shane Kerins.
David Flannery is a reliable goalkeeper while Liam Og Gormley, one of a number of survivors from the 2000 senior success, adds experience and calm assurance to a back line in which Peadar McManus and James McLoughlin are also very solid playing figures.
At midfield, the long serving Padraig Doohan is the heart and soul of the team, an inspirational leader whose tireless endeavour brings the best out of those around him.
"Padraig is our driving force", Kevin Frain points out. "He's a real leader and everybody draws inspiration from him"
St. Aiden's, managed by former Roscommon All Star, Frankie Grehan, will start as favourites after winning the Roscommon title in convincing fashion.
David Hoey and Padraig Neary form an industrious midfield pairing while a slick-moving attack is spearheaded by Ketih Waldron who won an All-Ireland medal with Roscommon minors a few years ago.
"We're moving up a levell in terms of competition but we're approaching the game with a lot of optimism". says the Bunninadden Chairman.
Meanwhile, Cloonacool were also be in Connacht Championship action on Sunday.
They meet Oran from Roscommon in the Junior semi-final which is a curtain-raiser to the Intermediate encounter.
After winning the Sligo title in such dramatic fashion - Hughie Marren's injury penalty gave them a one point victory over St John's in the decider - the South Sligo side will be anxious to claim another famous win.
Marren will once again be an important figure for them while others well capable of making a telling contribution include: Padraic Murtagh, Fergus Leonard, Paul Kilcoyne, Jason Brennan, Brian McIntyre and James Armstrong.