A FIRST Junior final appearance for 11 years provides Beragh with the perfect opportunity to consolidate a series of improving performances during recent years.
The Red Knights almost halted Tattyreagh’s title chase last season and have been consistently making their mark in Division Three. Now, though, this latest decider at Healy Park is arguably the biggest challenge yet.
Much of that progress has been under the management of Enda Kilpatrick, pictured right. He arrived at the club in 2016 and has helped to guide the fortunes of a team which, like Newtownstewart, comprises a healthy sprinkling of young players.
Victories over Glenelly, Eskra and Killeeshil have raised Beragh’s profile. But their manager is also well aware of the test being presented by the St Eugene’s and the need for improvements despite some good form so far.
“There were times especially during the closing stages of the semi-final against Killeeshil when we didn’t deal with high balls and I’m sure Newtownstewart will have looked at that,” he said.
“It’s great to be in the county final because the team has promised in various performances during my time with the club that they have the ability. The aim was to string a few good results together and now we’ve done that.
“We are always better going forward rather than defending a lead. This is about doing damage in the opposition half and that’s where I want us to be come the final.
“Intermediate football next year is a mighty prize for whoever wins on Sunday and the possibility of a run in Ulster which in my opinion helps to prepare you for what lies ahead in the new season.
“Big prizes like that are worth fighting for and there’s no doubt that we’ll have a battle on our hands against Newtownstewart.”
The Red Knights last won the Junior title in 1988, and lost out to Rock in 2007 after a replay. No wonder, then, that there is a fresh determination to try and make amends.
A run to the Division Three play-offs has emphasised their consistency this season, and Enda Kilpatrick is keen to stress the commitment and dedication of all the players involved.
“It’s not just a 15-player game and this year Beragh have stepped up, the subs have stepped up and the whole panel. There are players who come to training who might not line out in the championship, but they are here and part of this championship.
“They are equally as importance as the first 15. That ethos is there, it’s good to have an important to build on. There’s also a good blend of youth and experience.
“I have seen Newtownstewart and I know that Clogher would have their hands full with them in the semi-final. There is no doubt that it’s going to be a very tough game.
“But this is a great journey for this group of Beragh players, even though they haven’t won anything yet. They haven’t been in a Junior final for 11 years and, while that doesn’t give them the right to win it, it’s great for the team, the parish and the club for them to be there.
“The bottom line is that nobody remembers who loses a final, this team has trained hard and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”