GRAHAM Geraghty leads Castledaly into quarter-final battle in the Westmeath SFC this weekend, but Mullingar Shamrocks are bound to pose a considerable obstacle to the 2008 champions hopes of progressing further in the competition (Sunday, Cusack Park, 5pm).
Castledaly blew hot and cold in the group stage, winning three games and losing twice in Division 1, before finishing in the third (and final) qualifying place.
They responded positively to losing the opening two group games (to Tyrrellspass and St Loman's - the other qualifiers from the group), but also to the unwanted departure of county player Tommy Warburton to the United States. A convincing nine-point victory over St Malachy's last time out rubber-stamped Castledaly's place in the last-six, but Mullingar Shamrocks were also in fine fettle in Division 2, winning four out of five group games, and will pose a formidable barrier to Castledaly's hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
Shamrocks' only group defeat came against a Garrycastle team in sensational form of late, but while Graham Geraghty has the highest regard for Sunday's opposition, he feels Castledaly have a fighting chance of progressing.
"I suppose Mullingar Shamrocks have a very good reputation, and they're probably in the top three or four teams in the county," Geraghty said.
"It's definitely a big ask for us, but it's always going to be tough in quarter-finals. We're looking forward to it, very much so. The lads have been training well and recovered well from a bad start to the year. We had problems finishing chances early in the campaign, and that hasn't completely cleared up either, but it's improved of late, and I think our discipline has improved too. These things give us a fighting chance on Sunday, and the lads have the ability to produce the goods. Hopefully, we'll be able to do the business on Sunday," added the Meath man.
At time of print, Castledaly expected to have a full-strength panel at their disposal on Sunday, but Tommy Warburton obviously continues to miss out.
"A lot of our players have come into good form recently, and I think they're proving what they're capable of," said Geraghty.
No doubt Castledaly will need big performances from most players to see off Mullingar Shamrocks, with particular onus on the likely midfield partnership of Gordon Duffy and Niall Duffy.
In the forward line, Castledaly possess youthful exuberance and a fair touch of know-how, with the experienced MJ McLoughlin always likely to chip-in with a fair share of scores, and he's ably supported by the likes of cousins, Brendan and Paul Kelly, and the exciting Lorcan Dolan, while Alan Stone's contribution at full-forward has been immense in this year's championship. Defensively, Castledaly are usually pretty sound, with Liam Fitzpatrick, Niall O'Neill, Michael Gavin and John Warburton expected to contribute greatly again on Sunday.
Ray Smyth's Shamrocks will be tough opposition though, and with the likes of Denis and Adam Corroon, Kieran Gavin, Simon Quinn, Fiachra Spellman and Lorcan Smyth to the fore, will be many people's favourites to secure a semi-final meeting against near neighbours St Loman's. Elsewhere in the quarter-finals this weekend, The Downs play Tyrrellspass at Cusack Park on Sunday at 6.30pm, with the winners playing Garrycastle in the last four.
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|Date:||Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 6:46:16 PM|