Francie Martin has seen both sides of Bundoran in Championship football – and says only their very best will do as they bid to upset the lopsided odds against Championship favourites Gaoth Dobhair on Sunday evening.
Martin was Naomh Colmcille manager when Bundoran cantered to victory in the 2015 Intermediate final at O’Donnell Park.
That was the afternoon Bundoran sealed their passage back into the senior grade again.
Last year, they were in a senior quarter-final, but finished 11 points behind eventual champions Kilcar.
It was a day, though, when Bundoran were missing Jamie Brennan and Tommy Hourihane – two of their leading lights.
Now, having dramatically booked their place in the last eight again – via Hourihane’s winner in Ardara last Sunday – Martin and Bundoran face a formidable task.
“The toughest draw possible,” agrees Martin.
“We played Kilcar last year and were well in the game until half-time. We didn’t have Jamie or Tommy that day, but we took a lot out of it.
“We know how good Gaoth Dobhair are, though. They have only conceded one goal. They play a very defensive game and are very hard to play against. They have maybe 12 or 13 coming back and filling up spaces. On top of that, they’re very strong going forward.
“They’re such a force. We need to stay in the game and compete. They have all the experience of a county team and won an Ulster under-21. They’ve been there and done it.
“We will have to match the work rate. Who’s going to work harder? If Bundoran do match the work rate, we’ll be in with a chance with Jamie and Paul.’
The Donegal duo are certainly Bundoran’s main threats. Jamie Brennan carries a threat that ‘will give bother to anyone’, as Martin puts it.
“Bundoran used to be a team that one day they’d take a hammering and the next day they’d give one,” the Glenfin native says. “It was just whatever they believed on a given day.
“They’re more solid now. The minds are stronger and they’re better equipped to stay in games longer.
“That day against Naomh Colmcille, by God they weren’t going to be stopped. They just need to be more consistent playing at that level. They’re getting more belief and confidence and definitely getting stronger.”
Martin admits that he thought his men were on their way for the exits last Sunday. Needing a three-point win to book a quarter-final place, they left it as late as they could with Hourihane’s goal coming after six minutes of addd time.
“We were resigned to not making it,” Martin says. “We just went with one last attack and Tommy got his fist to it. You couldn’t have got it any more dramatic. You have to feel for Ardara with a massive crowd and they were sure they had it. Then, bang, they are out.”
Bundoran have injury concerns over Gary Clancy, but he is expected to line out.Tags: