Wednesday 24 January 2018

Curry primed for a rousing performance in semi-final

Sligo champs face tough task against Ballaghaderreen

LEO GRAY Sports Editor

CURRY WILL become the latest side to try to end Sligo's long wait for club Championship glory when they begin their Provincial campaign on Sunday.

The Sligo champions face an uphill task against Mayo title holders, Ballaghaderreen, at McHale Park, Castlebar, but the South Sligo club's manager, Anthony Brennan, is anticipating a rousing effort from his side.

"Sligo has a very poor record in the Connacht Club championship and it's time some team changed that mentality", said a defiant Brennan.

"We have to stop believing that teams from the so-called big three counties in Connacht are better than us. To me, that's nonsense.

"The only place to prove that, of course, is on the field of play and that's what we'll be trying to do on Sunday"

In planning his strategy for what will undoubtedly be Curry's most searching test of the year, Brennan will be putting a heavy emphasis on the need for consistency over the match.

"The one problem we've had all year is that we've tended to switch off or lose concentration at periods in some matches", he admitted.

"Even in the county final we were in danger of losing a match which dominated for long stretches.

"That is obviously something we need to address but, overall, I think our form has been quite impressive all year and the commitment of the players has been exceptional"

Curry lost just once on their way to claiming the Sligo crown and they proved worthy Champions with a 1-16 to 1-10 victory over St. Mary's in the decider.

The squad took a well-earned break after that to celebrate the club's first title in six years and to join in the preparations for the wedding of ace forward, Adrian Marren.

"The lads enjoyed the break and the celebrations but they've been flying since they've been back training", reported Brennan.

"You set out at the start of the year with the hope of winning a county title but now we're moving up a level and it's a challenge we're looking forward to" he added.

While Curry were storming their way to glory in Sligo, Ballaghaderreen were making their own waves in Mayo, causing something of a surprise when getting the better of favourites, Ballintubber, 1-9 to0-4, in the final.

"To be honest, the result of that match wasn't a shock to me at all", said Brennnan.

"We played them in a challenge game earlier in the season and they struck me as a side that had all the ingredients to win a county title.

"They are very strong defensively, have the physical capacity to win a lot of ball, and have talented forwards"

Ballaghaderreen proved their worth in Mayo by winning the Championship after a four year wait. Ballintubber were going for three in a row in the final but the East Mayo side, even without their talismanic figure, Andy Moran, were too hot to handle in the decider.

Midfielders, Barry Kelly and James Kilcullen, controlled the battle for possession while the defence displayed such vigilance that they restricted the highlyrated Ballintubber side to just one point in the second half. Barry Regan is the big dangerman up front - he pointed five great frees in the final - but the Mayo champions also have lively forwards in Andy Hanley, David Kilcullen and Joe Dillon.

While Brennan clearly rates the Mayo champions, he doesn't believe for one moment that they are unbeatable. "I never worry too much about the opposition's strengths and weaknesses. I prefer to concentrate on getting things right ourselves", the Curry manager pointed out.

Curry reached the Connacht final in 2003, recording a highly impressive ten point win over Ballina Stephenites along the way, before losing to eventual All-Ireland Champions, Caltra, in the decider. There are a number of survivors from that campaign in the Curry squad and their experience will be invaluable. Sean Davey, the team captain, is having one of his best ever seasons for the club while another long serving player, Kenneth Morley, who missed out in 2003, has also been an inspirational figure this year.

"Our experienced players have been terrific all year", agreed Brennan.

"Maybe, the Connacht stage will be the platform for some of the other lads to shine. Sometimes, it can be like that. The pressure of winning a county title is off and some lads just to take to playing in a different competition"

Adrian Marren will once again be a pivotal figure in the Curry forward line and David Maye and Jason Marren will also have crucial roles.

The tireless Brian McDonagh will be in the thick of the action, at midfield or in the half forward line, while Nial McDonagh, Ciaran, Cathal and Aodan Brennan and Jason Marren will not be found wanting in the heat of Championship battle.

"It's all about delivering a performance on the day. If we have the desire and the belief, we'd be hopeful", concluded Brennan

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