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St Brigid's leaving on a jet plane for tilt at All-Ireland title

By Declan Bogue

If you don't ask, you don't get is the old maxim. And for Antrim's Intermediate hurling representatives - St Brigid's of Cloughmills - they are glad they asked Slaughtneil how they handle an All-Ireland quarter-final fixture in England.

Last month, Slaughtneil went over to London and defeated champions St Kiernan's in the All-Ireland football club quarter-final, and they promptly handed the blueprint of their weekend over to St Brigid's, when asked.

While the players and supporters of Brigid's board their flight today, they do so safe in the knowledge that their kit has already made the journey before them.

Ahead of tomorrow's meeting with Robert Emmetts at Greenford (throw-in 1pm), assistant manager Alex Campbell was thankful that the snow and bad weather held out since their Ulster final win over Eoghan Ruadh of Coleraine, leaving their build-up uninterrupted.

"We think we are in as good a shape as we can possibly be. We have got out to Ballymena, used their pitch and I think we only had one session indoors, in Dunloy," said the English teacher in Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle.

"The weather was kind to us and we have been in Cloughmills for the Sunday morning sessions. We were keen to do that.

"We are an Intermediate side, so we haven't over-elaborated in training. We haven't done anything particularly novel or different. Just good solid hurling drills, plenty of running, trying to get the boys' touch right."

They are likely to be missing Liam Cassley - one of their major scoring threats and joint-captain through injury.

"He's done absolutely nothing since December apart from a lot of physio and he'll be a doubt right up to Saturday," according to Campbell.

Campbell referred back to their nervy Ulster final win, played in pea-souper conditions in Ballymena at the end of November.

"Our boys hadn't won an Ulster before, they needed to get over that line. They probably felt it was a great opportunity for us and we have to take it. That creates tension, plus the conditions and all of that.

"Coleraine, for all of what they did not put up on the scoreboard, they were always in our faces. At times, we produced great quality scores, great passages of play. But we are a team with weaknesses and we can suffer a bit of nerves, a lack of belief, and we are always trying to work against that."

Robert Emmetts are managed by an Antrim native, Kevin McMullan, who was on the team that became London's only-ever All-Ireland club champions when they won everything at this level in 2007. London also beat Antrim in last year's league, so the quality of opposition will not be lacking.

The game was initially to be played on November 13, prior to the Ulster Council and Eoghan Ruadh clashing at board level over their eligibility to play at this level.

Belfast Telegraph


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