ACCORDING to the Percy French song, “There is only one street in Dromcollogher”, but that is not true. There are a good few. There is, however, only one football team in Dromcollogher/Broadford, and this Saturday at 2.30pm in Longford, they face Ulster champions Crossmaglen Rangers in the AIB All Ireland Club football semi final.
The other famous Percy French song is, “Are you right there Michael”. Well this Sunday, Michael Reidy and his charges are right and if this season is anything to go by, then Crossmaglen are in for one hell of a contest.
Captained by Tom Mc Loughlin and boasting such names as Michael Reidy, Tommy Stack and Jason Stokes, Dromcolloger/Broadford are this years Munster Club champions. It was their first provincial title, secured after wins over Nemo Rangers and Kilmurry Ibricken. This feat came on the back of four county titles and all of this from a club that is only senior since 2000.
When I sat down this week with Tommy, Tom and Michael, all pictured above, thoughts turned to this Saturday and the big game. In some other sports, when you interview a few players, they have all been media trained and advised. This week, was a return to the roots of sport. All three lads spoke of the pride in the jersey and the pride in the parish.
“I suppose the secret of our success is that we are a tight bunch who play all different sports together. We have a laugh in training, but the honesty and work ethic are the core of this side” was Tommy Stack’s take on things. Captain Tom thought that the team were going places from a young age, “When people like Dr Bob and Ned English and Liam Kearns and John Brudair (current manager) train you, you can’t go too far wrong. We have been going well since we were minor in 1996 and from then on we have had relative success and some luck. This season we decided that we would get out of Limerick if we could and take it from there. That’s was achieved and with our fourth county title came more confidence to go on”.
Thoughts mirrored once more by Limerick player and free taker Michael Reidy. “I suppose the structures were right and this year John Brudair brought even more enthusiasm to the club and we went from there. The conditions we have played in haven’t really suited our football, but we have won and that is the main thing. Looking ahead to Saturday, we know what Crossmaglen are going to be like, who doesn’t are seeing so much of them in the final stages in recent years, but we just need to make sure that we get our basics right and we will get the result needed.”
So what about the oppositions? This will be Crossmaglen’s 7th semi-final appearance, having won in 1997-99-2000-2007 and lost in 2005 and 2008. That’s an impressive strike rate for the Donal Murtagh-managed side who beat St.Patrick’s, St. Eunan’s and Ballinderry (replay) to win the Ulster title for a 7th time last December.
They have been extremely sound defensively conceding just 0-6 against St.Patrick’s, 0-8 against St.Eunan’s and 1-4 in the replay against Ballinderry. The squad, captained by John Donaldson, is dotted with household names such as Armagh stars, Paul Hearty, Francie Bellew, Aaron, Tony and Stephen Kernan, Tony and John McEntee, and Oisin McConville.
Crossmaglen are the Manchester United of club football. People amy describe Drom/Broadford as the poor relation. They may be underdogs on Saturday, but that is not their call. It often comes down to who wants it more. After spending time talking to the lads this week, there is no doubt that Drom/Broadford are not going up there to make up the numbers or collect their new jerseys.
The fact of the matter is this. Drom/Broadford are the best that Limerick and Munster have to offer. They deserve their day out and the fans will travel. I have a slight feeling that there will be a shock and maybe time for a new song.