IT tells you everything about Derry Junior football that promotion - not the League title - is the real prize on offer to teams in Division Three.
Michael Wilson reports
In that sense, the season boils down to Sunday for Ardmore and Glack who renew rivalries in Ballinascreen (1.30pm) one week after Aaron O’Connor’s men captured the title following a fantastic game in Foreglen. It was the first piece of silverware in 28 years for Glack and richly deserved after a season in which they have surpassed most expectations.
But ask anyone in either camp and they will tell you their objective has been the same since the first ball was kicked - promotion.
“It would’ve been nice to win the League trophy but for us this is the game we want,” admitted Ardmore manager William McLaughlin. “Last year we won the League but then lost out to Pearses and Limavady so the title counted for nothing. From the start of this season our aim has been promotion, to get out of this division.
“Junior football in Derry is neglected,” he continued echoing the sentiments of most of the Junior clubs, “Yes, we get something like 14 games but that is not the issue. There are always two or three teams that dominate and the Thirds teams can give everything a lop-sided look. Depending on where you play them, you can get two totally different sides so it is a bit of a lottery. If you play them at their pitch it can be very competitive but if they travel it is often a different story. Don’t get me wrong, these sides are good for the league but the problem seems to be the structure.”
The Ardmore manager will be without Brian McLaughlin after his midweek appeal against a red card in last week’s game was unsuccessful but he has Chris Gormley fit again after flu. Otherwise both panels should be along similar lines for a game which could be a springboard for either.
“I think we are ready to go up if we can get the right result which will not be easy. Having our own pitch again has already made a big difference. We went two years without having a home game but now we want to try and make that step. Pearses went up last year and maybe didn’t cover themselves in glory and that could be the case for whoever goes up on Sunday, it’s the danger of having a relatively small squad. The loss of three or four of your main players can have a huge impact. However we should hopefully get a few players back next season so we believe we could compete but Sunday will another very tight game.”
Glack have probably had the upper hand in meeting between the two teams this year and McLaughlin admits he has been surprised at how well they have done.
“I think Glack have surprised a few people this year, they have a good crop of young players coming through which means they don’t have to rely as much on their ‘old guard’. John McLaughlin and Aaron O’Connor have done a great job. Their half-back line is very good and Jimmy O’Connor is always a threat. We blew hot and cold last week and Glack deserved their victory but we were disappointed in how some decisions went though I don’t like to criticise referees.
“Last week was tight and I’m expecting nothing different this weekend. It was end-to-end and had everything, Sunday should be a similar game. Midfield will be a battle ground but Gerard Storey did well for us in there. Jimmy O’Connor is always a big factor for Glack but it’s not just about him. They have a number of excellent players and a strong bench so it was be a close game.”