By Michael McMullan
AFTER winning their first championship game in nine years, the hurlers of Lisbellaw aim to win a second inside a week when they take on Carrickmore on Sunday.
“Once we have started, why not keep going,” joked captain Rory Porteous.
“They will see (playing) us as a good chance to get to a final and we will have to look at them in the same way.”
Getting over Newry Shamrocks in their rescheduled quarter-final last weekend was a big relief for a Lisbellaw team devoid of any match practice since their last competitive game back in August, a defeat to Middletown in an Armagh League decider.
Their 3-15 to 2-8 win over the Down side was the first win since their Ulster Intermediate season of 2012.
Trailing 2-5 to 0-8 at the break, it took goals from Tom Keenan, Daniel Teague and Ciarán Corrigan to get them into the groove.
“The game was totally different in the second half,” Porteous explained. “We realised the level we needed to be at and that they were already at. Once we were able to match them and get our heads around that part of it, the game changed.”
Getting off to more positive start is on the Lisbellaw radar this weekend. Porteous speaks of Carrickmore’s progress. Beating Dungannon is “not easy done” and they’ll take confidence from their win over Antrim champions Carey Faughs.
“We have played them in different Ulster club competitions and been up against them a few times over the years,” he added.
“We know the strength they have, the likes of Justy Kelly, and (Dermot) Begley around the middle. We would’ve played against a few of those boys in our first Lory Meagher final (2012) with the county.
“They are strong and physical and attritional, but they are good hurlers too. There will be a few familiar faces up against each other.”
With the unique situation of not having a Senior or Intermediate Championship in Fermanagh, Lisbellaw rely on a newly formed junior competition to keep the rest of their panellists match sharp.
Aside from club football action and a considerable portion playing with the county team to build in match sharpness, Porteous points to their in-house games as being invaluable with sizeable squad.
“We have so many young fellas coming through and pushing to get starting,” he said. I don’t envy Davey (Teague) having to pick the team on matchday.”
With the crunch championship games now on the horizon, the key point is an awareness of the intensity levels. What is a foul and what isn’t.
“It’s even getting up to the speed of the hitting and all that kind of stuff,” he explained.
When the final whistle sounds, Rory will have an extra interest in the second game, Dunloy’s showdown with Sleacht Néill.
Growing up he dined out on watching Dunloy, from where is mother Una hails from.
“My Granda Joe, or ‘Josie’ as he was known, would’ve followed them in every game going,” he said. “Anytime we were up in Dunloy, we’d be there as well. He managed to get my Dad (John) involved as team doctor for a few years through all that; he’d have been there at the games in Croke Park, Ulster and right through.”
A DunloyLisbellaw double on Sunday? Porteous will have worry about Carrickmore first.