Former Tyrone defender Chris Lawn enjoys Christmas as much as anyone. But he is hoping that the Cookstown team which he manages celebrate the festive season “in moderation”, as he puts it.
Lawn has already taken Cookstown to the Tyrone and Ulster Intermediate Club football titles and now has his sights firmly fixed on making it a hat-trick of triumphs by collecting the All Ireland crown.
And the fact that Cookstown must cross swords with Naomh Anna from Lettermore, the Galway and Connacht champions, in the semi-final on January 24 persuades Lawn that relatively low-key Christmas celebrations will be the order of the day.
“Obviously we are going in against a side that we don’t know an awful lot about and for that reason we should be even more guarded. We will have to celebrate Christmas and the New Year in moderation.
“While we have been very happy with what we have achieved to date, we would now like to go the full distance.
“As soon as Christmas is over we will be back in serious training — January 24 certainly won’t be long coming round and we need to be in peak condition for this particular match,” warns Lawn.
With three-times Tyrone All Ireland winner Owen Mulligan expected back shortly from his sabbatical in Australia and some niggly injuries clearing up, Lawn is hopeful of having a full complement of players on duty for the semi-final.
His team were impressive in overcoming Down champions Ballymartin in the Ulster semi-final before going on to account for Monaghan Harps in the decider.
And the notion that the experienced Mulligan is Cookstown’s only source of scores is quickly dispelled when it is considered that players like Shea McGarrity, Conor O’Hare and Brian Mulligan are all accomplished finishers.
In the other All Ireland Intermediate semi-final Kerry and Munster champions Spa will take on Kildare and Leinster title-holders Maynooth.
Meanwhile, if Lawn and his Cookstown players will be watching their intake of calories over Christmas, spare a thought for newly-crowned Ulster junior club champions Emyvale.
The Monaghan outfit must confront Dunedin Connollys (Edinburgh) in the All Ireland junior club championship quarter-final on Sunday January 10 — the same weekend on which the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup will get under way in the province.
Emyvale’s almost stealthy surge to the Ulster title — they beat Antrim champions St Teresa’s in a replayed final — has earned the club fresh respect and newly-appointed Monaghan secretary Sean McKenna now reveals that they will have considerable backing when they step onto the All Ireland stage.
“The club has done Monaghan and Ulster proud so far and there is real hope that they can go much further. Obviously they will be going into action again very, very soon after Christmas which is never easy but you can be sure that they will be up for the challenge,” he says.
“It’s a big mission for them but they have shown to date that they are well-organised.”