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Belief is St Enda's biggest spur in All-Ireland title tilt, says Frank Fitzsimons

Major test: Frank Fitzsimons eyes All-Ireland glory
Major test: Frank Fitzsimons eyes All-Ireland glory
John Campbell

By John Campbell

St Enda's Glengormley manager Frank Fitzsimons is urging fans throughout Antrim and Ulster to get behind his team as they bid to land the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship crown when they meet Kerry and Munster champions Kilcummin in tomorrow's final at Croke Park (1.30pm).

If St Enda's were to win, it would be a history-making achievement, and Fitzsimons loses no time in dispelling the notion that his side might be at a psychological disadvantage, given that their opponents are deemed to be in pole position to carry off the title.

"Sometimes Antrim teams, and indeed other sides from Ulster, would be apprehensive about playing teams from certain parts of the country, but my boys are confident without being cocky," insists Fitzsimons.

"They have belief in their own ability and now they are keen to bring the curtain down on an unbelievable championship campaign tomorrow.

"These players do what you ask them to do. They work hard and they train hard. I have already told them that if they win the All-Ireland they can party hard!"

From a side that was given little hope at the outset of the Antrim championship, St Enda's have morphed into a buoyant, determined and well-drilled outfit that has claimed several big scalps over the course of recent months, but now face the challenge of collecting the biggest one of all.

No one is more aware of this than manager Fitzsimons, who has monitored Kilcummin's progress through their county and provincial campaigns and is fully aware of the barrier they will form to thwart his team's hopes of attaining the ultimate glory.

"When you are going in against a team from Kerry, you know that you will be facing real quality and you really have to be on your toes for the whole game," states Fitzsimons.

"Like ourselves, Kilcummin are very much up for this match and, from what we hear, they will have people from their own area coming from all over the world to get behind the side."

The Kingdom club is laced with talent, from vastly experienced goalkeeper and captain Brendan Kealy out.

They may have suffered a scare in their All-Ireland semi-final against Kildare side Two Mile House, which they just about won by a point (0-11 to 0-10), but the feeling within the club is that this game will go their way tomorrow.

In Noel Duggan, Sean O'Leary, Matt Keane and Philip Casey they have players of exceptional quality, while their half-forward line of Shane McSweeney, Gary O'Leary and Padraig Nagle is a particularly potent unit.

But Fitzsimons is confident that the special bond which unites his side could prove to be a key weapon in the showpiece.

"These boys are particularly close. You can see it there all the time," points out Fitzsimons.

And the Antrim boss is very much aware that Kilcummin will have a particularly prominent GAA figure in their corner tomorrow.

Former Association president Sean Kelly, the man synonymous with the seismic step taken to open the doors of Croke Park to soccer and rugby, is "Kilcummin through and through" as Fitzsimons puts it.

Not only did the visionary Kelly bring a whole new dimension to Irish sport while GAA President, but he also campaigned to have All-Ireland finals at every level played in Croke Park.

National club deciders at junior and intermediate first took place there in 2006 and now St Enda's and Kilcummin become the latest clubs to sample the Headquarters experience.

"While we admire Sean Kelly for what he managed to achieve, we will be doing our best to put one over on his Kilcummin club tomorrow. Sean proved a great president but tomorrow we hope to prove a great team," smiles Fitzsimons.

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