Crossmaglen Rangers joint manager Tony McEntee cannot hide his frustration as his team’s Ulster club football final against Donegal champions Naomh Conaill faces a third possible postponement.
“This is developing into a boring saga,” sighs McEntee. “I know that pitch inspections are planned for today and obviously we are all hoping that the match will get the green light on Sunday.
“But even though a thaw has set in, we have to acknowledge there is a still a fear that the deeply-ingrained frost in the ground may not have relented.”
McEntee and his management partner Gareth O’Neill have been striving to keep the Rangers players on their toes aware that the squad’s disrupted training pattern occasioned by the bad weather has not been helpful.
“There is no point in saying anything else — our preparations have been anything but smooth but then I’m sure the same will apply to Naomh Conaill,” says McEntee.
Ulster Council officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the game will go ahead but spokesman Oliver Galligan admits that they are facing a race against the clock.
“We hope to see the real extent of the thaw today and tomorrow,” says Galligan.
For Rangers young guns like David O’Callaghan, James Morgan, Stephen Finnegan, Kyle Carragher, Jamie Clarke and Aaron Cunningham the waiting has been particularly difficult.
They are chomping at the bit to participate in their first Ulster club final and Jamie Clarke (Crossmaglen Rangers and Armagh) management have been trying to curb their enthusiasm.
Naomh Conaill manager Cathal Corey makes it clear that the protracted build-up has been no picnic for his team either.
“To tell you the truth the boys were jumping through hoops when the game was initially arranged for the end of last month and keeping them focussed in the meantime has not been the easiest task in the world.
“We have not been able to do as much outdoor training as we would like although I would have to say that overall the boys have been showing a great attitude,” maintains Corey.
The Thompson brothers Leon and Anthony along with Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy and Leo McLoone will underpin the Naomh Conaill challenge in a match that their manager describes as “the biggest in the life of this club.”
Indeed, the village of Glenties where the team is based was set to be deserted on the last Sunday of November had the match initially gone ahead as scheduled but Kildress man Corey remains optimistic that the fans will still get behind his men despite the recent postponements.
“We have had to be patient but our ambition is still burning bright. We still have our self-belief and hopefully that will sustain us,” adds Corey.