Progression is key for Roundwood men
FOR An Tóchar, the mission for 2021 was to go, in this case, three steps further in the Intermediate football championship.
In 2020, they made it as far as the quarter-finals of the competition. They improved on that Coolkenno, who lost in last year’s county final to Donard-The Glen, on October 23. In the semi-finals, and An Tóchar would claim another scalp in the form of Kilcoole, who lost in last year’s semi-finals, to Coolkenno.
Finally, they will meet Hollywood in Sunday’s Intermediate championship final, and for coach John McHugh, the team have gradually improved over the course of the competition, ending with that win over Kilcoole.
“We have been preparing them as best we can,” McHugh said. “They are in good shape and there’s not much more we can do with them, to be honest with you.
“I would say, from the Laragh match, which would’ve been local derby, there would’ve been a lot riding on it, to be honest.
“Let’s say we got over the line. Laragh could’ve won it in the end. To that point, we were happy enough to get over the line. Moving on, then, to Stratford. Again, a difficult game.
“We got over the line there and we did improve. We were happy enough with their improvement.
“Last weekend, against Kilcoole, was probably one of our best performances to date in the championship. The graph is looking good, it’s an uphill graph.
“As a management team, we’d be happy to get over the line. Every win for a young team is going to build their confidence.
“You still have to keep their feet on the ground. There is nothing won just yet. Sunday is a big day for them.”
Hollywood will represent familiar competition for McHugh and co.
“In 2020, An Tochar played and beat a Hollywood team that had been relegated from the Senior football championship the year before.
McHugh is well aware of the strengths that their opposition possess and will not be taking them for granted come Sunday.
“We got over the line at the end of the day, but we would be expecting a very strong game. I’ve had a look at Hollywood, and they are footballing team. They have some lovely players, so we are by no means lying down and thinking we’ve got over the line. They will be a hard nut to crack but hopefully we will get over the line.”
Nonetheless, John McHugh is hopeful that An Tóchar will be able to finish what they started in 2020.
“From the outset, our aim was to improve on last year. We have a mixed squad of experienced players and some very young players coming up from Minor. They’re a good bunch of young fellas, and our hope was that we would’ve progressed further than the quarter-final.
“Like every team to start out in the championship, and there’s no point telling lies, our expectation is to go on and win it and that’s what we hope to do.”