Fuerty enjoying senior return in Roscommon
By Cian O'Connell
Reaching the last eight in the Roscommon Senior Football Championship is the latest drop of encouragement for Fuerty.
Preparing for a quarter-final tussle against Strokestown at Dr Hyde Park is a reward for sigificant work which has been carried out in the proud Roscommon club.
County and Connacht Junior Champions in 2013, Fuerty endured some harrowing losses at Intermediate level before eventually earning promotion to the top tier in Roscommon.
“We won in '18, we got to a final in '17, we lost a semi-final by a point in '16, we lost a final in '15, and we lost a semi-final in '14, so we lost so many games by a score,” says Fuerty Secretary Niall Connolly.
“We are delighted with the progress of the team. We have been building for the last few years. We were knocking on the door to win the Intermediate Championship for a few years.
“We are delighted with the way things have gone at Senior, the League was a little bit tricky. We played a good few rounds missing players, but it actually worked out well in the end because it meant more players got game time. So when it came to the Championship then everybody was up to speed.”
There was always a feeling within Fuerty that a talented collection of players, including current Roscommon footballer, Niall Kilroy, would deliver some success.
“It was building,” Connolly admits. “In and around Niall Kilroy's age group they played Division One football the year before and after him at underage. They competed in Division One Finals, we had a good crop of about seven or eight, who came through together.
“Once they found their feet and got a bit of experience they settled and now they are your 28/29 year olds that are driving it on. It has just been added to with two or three lads each year.”
To be operating in Division One in the underage ranks in those campaigns mattered deeply according to Connolly.
“We would be joined with Creggs underage, St Ciaran's would be the underage club,” Connolly adds. “Every now and again we'd have a good crop, but not on a regular basis. It would be numbers and a quality thing, a bit of both.”
Currently, though, interest is high in the club and the playing numbers are a source of optimism for Fuerty. “Absolutely, so far in the Senior Championship we have used 21 players,” Connolly states.
“Last Friday we had a Junior Championship match where none of them were eligible and we had 21 togged out for that. In the Junior Championship you'd have lads in their 40s playing with guys breaking through, but I have been involved in the Junior team for a good few years.
“We had been struggling to get numbers, but now we just have a good bunch. Some of them just play Junior, but the club is healthy at the moment.”
A victory over St Croans and draws with St Brigid's and Elphin ensured Fuerty topped Group A to earn a berth in the knockout stages. “The group of players themselves always felt that they could do something because they were that long knocking on the door to get to senior,” Connolly says.
“We felt we were able to play at that level. It wasn't as if last year's Intermediate was a fluke win. We would have been confident that we would be able to hold our own, but we can't say we'd have thought we'd go through the group we were in without losing a game.
“Two draws in games we probably should have won, so in a way we were probably a bit spoiled in how this has come about. We were confident that two wins would get us to a quarter final and we have got there now.”
The next challenge is to reach the penultimate stage. Can Fuerty accomplish that mission?