Paul Cartin can scarcely wait for Kerry to drop into Bellaghy for Sunday’s eagerly-awaited National League clash with Derry.
It was in the Oak Leaf side’s emphatic win over Westmeath at Ballinascreen last month that the modest Cartin turned in a man of the match performance in defence, helping to shut out what ultimately proved to be a largely toothless visitors’ attack.
Now he’s keen to flex his muscles against an on-fire Kingdom attack in which Colm Cooper, Tommy Walsh, Darren O’Sullivan and Declan O’Sullivan have been particularly effective in their two wins over Donegal and Tyrone.
Cartin had been out of the county frame for the best part of last year because of injury but is now firmly focussed on becoming a regular under Damian Cassidy.
“I’m just going to take each match as it comes,” he says, “It was very frustrating to have to miss the best part of last year because of injury but you have to live with things like that. I’m happy to be back in the squad but given the depth of talent we have, I certainly will not be taking anything for granted.”
Cartin could find himself coming face to face with Paul Galvin, the player initially banned for six months last year for knocking the notebook from the hands of referee Paddy Russell and indeed the man with whom Tyrone’s Ryan McMenamin had a less than pleasant confrontation in round two of the National League at Omagh last month.
Cartin, a bricklayer, remains unfazed at the prospect of confronting a Kerry attack that encompasses blistering pace, stylish finishing - and rugged steel.
“You have to gauge yourself against the best to find out where you are and Kerry, while they may not be the current All Ireland champions, are right up there. Sunday’s game will be a major test for us but we are relishing it,” states Cartin.
Meanwhile, while he will be trying to stifle the Kingdom frontrunners, Enda Lynn will bid to enhance his growing reputation in the Derry attack.
The Greenlough clubman has been creating waves since the start of the year, his early form in the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup ensuring his involvement in the National League.
“Enda is one of several players who have come in and performed well. We are still in an experimental process in terms of selection and we must be prepared to keep all options open,” says manager Cassidy.
Bellaghy club officials are pulling out all the stops for the visit of Kerry, now that they are to be the hosts instead of Ballinascreen where the switch of venue has occasioned anger.
The Bellaghy playing surface is expected to be in tip-top shape for the contest - but much will depend on the weather in the interim.