DOIRE Trasna manager Paul Simpson has admitted he is stepping into the unknown as he prepares to lead the Derry Junior champions into their first Ulster Club Championship campaign against Tyrone’s Derrytresk at Celtic Park on Sunday. (throw-in 12.30pm)
Michael Wilson reports
After the heartbreak of 2010, this season - the club’s 10th Anniversary - has, thus far, resembled something out of a Hollywood movie script as the team, picked itself up from last year to secure victories in the Neal Carlin Cup and Championship whilst also securing promotion back to Intermediate football.
Last week, more than 200 guests were present in the Everglades Hotel as the club marked their milestone year and Simpson admitted he is hoping the season continues for a few weeks yet.
“At the start of the season we set out to gain promotion,” he explained, “we achieved that. To win the Championship was a very nice bonus so I suppose you could say this is an extra bonus for us and it is an honour to represent your county.
“To still be playing football at Halloween you either have to be doing something very right or very wrong and we are delighted with how the season has went so far. Hopefully we can continue what has been a great year for another few weeks yet.”
Killeeshil secured their place in Ulster with a surprise 0-15 to 0-09 victory over favourites, Killeeshil, in the Tyrone decider and Simpson said his team are not underestimating the size of the task in front of them.
“If I’m honest we know very little about Derrytresk. We haven’t had an opportunity to watch them. The Ulster Club Championship is not something you can go out and prepare for.
“What we do know though is that Tyrone football at Junior level would be much stronger than it is in Derry so Sunday is going to be a very difficult game. Derrytresk didn’t just win the Tyrone Junior Championship, they gave favourites Killeeshil a real thrashing, so they seem to be ‘the real McCoy’. We know we’ll get nothing easy on Sunday.
“By the same token though, they will now relatively little about us and we have to us that to our advantage. We produced our best performance of the season in the promotion play-off against Ardmore and it will probably take something similar on Sunday against Derrytresk.”
These are exciting times for the county’s youngest club which is still without a permanent home, something Simpson believes could propel them onto a new level.
“We use council facilities for games and school facilities for a lot of our training so, as a club, we are at their mercy to an extent but we have still won a Championship and got promoted. What we have managed to achieve with our nomadic type of existence is very positive but we are severely restricted in what we can do.
“We are restricted in the sense that we are the mercy of the schools and the council and it does limit us. For example, I don’t like having to stop underage training at all but we have to do that when the schools close,” he added.