Swatragh's 'bonus' run in Ulster
SWATRAGH’S Ryan Dillon admitted that the lure of playing in Croke Park may push him and his team mates to succeed in the Ulster Club series, but the county defender pointed out that the competition was not their priority.
The Michael Davitt’s club take on Lacken this weekend in the Ulster Club Championship at a time when the club is buzzing.
They won the Derry Senior Hurling Championship this year, and followed that up with the county Intermediate title.
However, championship glory is not what they seek.
“To be honest, the Ulster Club is a bonus,” Dillon said.
“We have won two championships this year, along with the hurling. But we have a league final with Newbridge in two weeks time, and that would get us Senior football next year.”
In Swatragh, football is king, and while they may have won their first Senior Hurling title, before the senior one, the desire to play at the top flight is strong.
That said, the atmosphere around the club, following the two county championship victories, is one of excitement. And it only abated slightly after last weekend’s defeat to Portaferry in the Ulster Club senior Hurling championship.
“The whole place is buzzing at the moment,” said Dillon. “There are loads of ones running around with Swatragh colours on.”
It is a great time to be from the Michael Davitt’s club indeed, and there are sure to be plenty of fans who will hope for success in Ulster, despite the importance of their league final.
One of the reasons why they have a very good chance of winning this weekend is the quality of their team.
“The bonus for us is that we have a very strong midfield. A lot of teams have struggled to compete with our midfield. We also have Conor McAtamney who has been a great addition,” he said. “There is fierce competition for places.”
Dillon admitted that he didn’t know much about Lacken, but that should change closer to the game as manager Artie Kearney went to watch the Cavan Intermediate final last weekend.
“I am looking forward to it. If we had a chance to get to play in the Ulster Club Championship, then in Croke Park, and get back to play senior football then you would certainly take it,” he said.
Dillon, who is joint captain along with midfielder Michael Friel, is expected to be one of the players who must play to his very best if Swatragh are to progress.
Dillon played county football this year, and that has given him some added conditioning. He also thinks he’s less nervous because of that experience. Michael Friel will also be key at the middle of the field. Ruairí Convery, who was sent off in last weekend’s Ulster SHC semi-final against Portaferry is expected to start, though centre half forward Michael Kilpatrick is injured. Similarly dual player Mickey Conway is also carrying a knock and he may be unavailable.
Read our coverage of the upcoming Ulster Club Championships in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday October 18. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here