It’s been an eventful ten months for Gerry Flanagan. Back at the start of the year Malachy McConnell got him talked into taking on the Belnaleck seniors.
It’s a small club, not a huge pick, but the Aughawillan native says he didn’t need a huge amount of persuading to take on the job.
“They were after being beat in two county finals so I knew there was a bit of potential there anyway and when you have three county players on a junior team you can’t be that far away.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing though and it wasn’t until championship came around that the McMurrough’s really found their mojo.
“The league didn’t go too well at all. We had to play starred games and without the county players we were on the back foot right away.
“I had a bit of work to do, convincing them that they were good enough to win on their day. They are as good as any other 15 or 22. It’s all about belief. Whether it was this year or some other year they were going to win it at some stage, so why not win it this year?
“From the middle of August they really put their shoulder to the wheel. We got a result over Brookeborough and that was the one that opened up the gate for us.
“In the final we never looked back on what happened before, we always looked to the future. We said to the lads it has nothing to with last year or the year before what happens here today. It’s all about the day. They really bought into it.”
Winning Fermanagh was one thing, but having steered Cloone into the Connacht intermediate championship back in 2009, Flanagan knew the provincial stage would present a different set of challenges.
“We went down to see Dundrum and we knew if we played to our potential that we would beat them. Doire Trasna was a different scenario, we didn’t see them. We got bits of information here and there, but you have to see teams in the flesh to know what you’re dealing with. I knew they’d be tough coming out of Derry.
“I told the boys before it that it was going to come down to a dog fight and at the end the team that wanted it most at the end would win it. Fair play to the boys, in the last ten or 12 minutes after they conceded the goal they went up the field and got a point or two and got back into the game. If Doire Trasna had got a point or two after that goal we’d have been under serious pressure.”
Now it is all about Naomh Colmcille on Saturday. Flanagan says the mood in the McMurrough’s camp couldn’t be better.
“They’re going very good, sure they could only be going good. We’re preparing for an Ulster final, where would players want to be other than preparing for an Ulster final at this time of year? They’re in the last two in Ulster.”
A major plus for Belnaleck has been a clear injury-free run for most players. Apart from missing Brian Lewsley the last day with a back injury and vice captain Mark McKenzie with a bad groin injury before county final, the sick bay has been fairly clear. In fact Flanagan rates McKenzie as a potential starter for the Omagh clash.
“We’ve been fierce fortunate everything’s fallen into place fierce well,” said the Belnaleck boss.
Posted: 1:40 pm November 25, 2017
As a player with Leitrim county teams back in the 1980s, Gerry Flanagan was hard working, teak tough but...