United front can prove major boost in bid for All-Ireland title, McAuley
St Enda's, Glengormley skipper James McAuley is preparing for the biggest match in his club's history by summoning support from every quarter as the players target All-Ireland glory.
Now that the team's shoot-out for the biggest prize of all has been fixed for Croke Park on Saturday February 9, McAuley hopes that followers from across the province will get behind them.
For a club that has endured more than its share of heartbreak and trauma in the past, an appearance at Headquarters is the stuff of dreams, yet 22-year-old McAuley is urging his players to keep their feet on the ground.
"Obviously it's unbelievable that we have come this far but we have still to surmount our biggest obstacle," stresses university student McAuley. "We will be meeting Kilcummin who are the Kerry and Munster champions and we know just how difficult they will be. While we have gained in confidence as we have moved along, we certainly won't be in the slightest bit complacent going into what is the most important game in our club's history."
Traditionally, when a club side emerges from Ulster to do battle on the All-Ireland stage, followers from the province throw their weight behind them. When Moy won the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship last year they even enjoyed a ration of support from Armagh, arguably Tyrone's greatest rivals.
"We are going to Croke Park to represent Antrim and Ulster," says McAuley.
St Enda's will train tomorrow night at which the management team will outline their plans for the All-Ireland decider.
In overcoming Galway and Connacht champions Spiddal last Sunday, St Enda's underlined their desire to complete their championship voyage in the grand manner.
Apart from what manager Frank Fitzsimons refers to as "one or two niggles" the team have no injury worries.
And McAuley is particularly pleased that his side is expected to be at full strength.
He believes, too, that older members within the club have provided encouragement for the players all along the line and indeed helped to keep the flag flying through the worst of the Troubles.
"The reality is that as much as we might think we know, we have no idea what our current success must mean to the older members who had to continually pick themselves and the club off the floor in those days," maintains McAuley. "Thankfully we are in a much better place now."
While the Antrim and Ulster club intermediate titles have been warmly embraced within the club, an All-Ireland honour would be regarded as a never to be forgotten prize.
"We want to make the dreams of our supporters and members come true," adds McAuley.