Niall Daly getting ready for ultimate Corofin test
By Cian O'Connell
After a decade of near misses and harrowing defeats, Pearses, with Niall Daly an influential figure, finally accomplished the mission of winning a Roscommon SFC title.
Daly endured those demanding days when Pearses worried and wondered would glory be attained.
Final losses in 2005, 2008, 2012, 2015, and 2016 hurt deeply, but the triumph over Roscommon Gaels last month brought unbridled joy.
"It's been brilliant the last few weeks," Daly admits. "I suppose in Roscommon terms we've been seen as the Mayo of Roscommon club football which is not a good thing really.
"So just to get over the line on the day in the Final was huge. Even the end of the game, I think we were nine points up at one stage and we let them come back into it and just held on really. It was a huge weight off the shoulders."
Pearses were quickly embarking on a Connacht Championship adventure with Sunday's provincial decider against Corofin an eagerly anticipated fixture at Tuam Stadium. "Then beating Tourlestrane, just about getting over them," Daly adds.
"I know the scoreline probably doesn't say that, but we probably got one or two fortuitous goals. The London trip really brought the club together. There was a huge crowd over there.
"In a funny way there were people over there that wouldn't be at a match in a club-pitch. But it's been brilliant. The last few days the hype of this game has really been building."
Manager Pat Flanagan has forged a strong connection with the Pearses group according to Daly. "We have Pat Flanagan who is in his second year with us and he's been saying how he gets this record where every club he's been to he's won a County Championship," Daly remarks.
"The belief he's given us...when a lad says that and you're looking at him and he has the know-how about how to get teams over the line. That probably helps in a way too to get you over the line."
Now Pearses are relishing the upcoming tussle with Corofin, who have proven to be such a capable team on this stage.
"It is a release and it isn't - we know we're going into the Lion's den on Sunday," Daly admits. "We're playing a team that a lot of people around the country admire for their brand of football.
"They're admired in club terms on a level similar to Dublin. We are looking forward to it. We know it's a huge challenge. We are in bonus territory but we want to do ourselves justice on the day."
Growing up Daly recalls going to play Corofin in challenge matches at underage level. "Corofin were one of those teams, unless you had a full team you wouldn’t be going down to play them," Daly acknowledges.
"Out of my age group, two years above me, I would have played them, U14, U16, minor. We were competitive with them. I’m not saying we would have beaten them, but they were one team that if you didn’t have a full team you could go down and get clipped."
Now, though, Pearses are getting ready for the biggest match in their history, "Absolutely," Daly responds when asked if if it is fair to put such a term on this weekend's occasion. "Every game for the last few weeks has been. It’s unknown territory. A huge game.
"The club is taking off. Everything is being supported and we have loads of sponsors getting involved. It’s a good time to be Pearses club member at the moment."
Niall, Conor, Ronan, and Lorcan Daly have all played their part in a memorable campaign for Pearses. Whatever happens on the Tuam sod another chapter will be added to the unfolding Pearses story.