By Damian Dolan
There can be no better way for Sean McDermotts to mark the club’s 60th Anniversary year than by winning a first All Britain title since 1975.
Having retained the Warwickshire title to make it four in a row, victory over London’s Junior championship and play-off winners Thomas McCurtains booked McDermotts a place in Sunday’s final at Beeston. Conal Dowling scoring two goals in a 2-11 to 1-12 win at McGovern Park, Ruislip.
That followed a six-point victory over Lancashire champions Oisíns in the quarter-finals – the stage at which McDermotts exited last year’s All Britain when defeated 1-15 to 2-5 by Liverpool’s John Mitchels.
Of course, they’ve come close to ending their All Britain drought in the past. They lost out to John Mitchel’s in the 2015 final by six points, and to St Peter’s in 2010 by a scoreline of 3-12 to 2-4. Both times they beat Sunday’s opponents Dunedin Connollys in the semi-finals.
The Edinburgh outfit are Scotland champions and All Britain holders, and are searching for their third title, having made the breakthrough in 2009.
Twelve months ago, Connollys defeated John Mitchel’s in the final to end the Lancashire club’s hopes of claiming a fifth All Britain Championship in a row. It needed extra-time to separate the sides, before the Edinburgh team emerged victorious, 1-19 to 2-14.
Dunedin will also be keen to go one step further than last year, when they secured a narrow three-point victory over Leinster Champions Rosenallis in the All Ireland Club JFC quarter-finals, only to bow out to Tyrone’s The Rock by 1-18 to 2-6 with Croke Park within touching distance.
On route to Sunday’s final, Connollys’ two-point extratime victory over Glasgow Gaels secured Scotland SFC title number 13 out of the last 15, so the Edinburgh side have amassed plenty of All Britain experience over the last decade or so.
Indeed, the two years that John Mitchels went on to reach the All Ireland final, they beat Dunedin along the way.
Connollys then proved too good for Hertfordshire champions St Colmcilles in their All Britain semi-final, prevailing by 1-14 to 0-4, having comfortably seen off Gloucestershire champions St Nick’s in the quarter-finals.
As mentioned early, McDermotts and Connollys do have history in the competition – it was McDermotts who knocked out the then holders from Edinburgh in 2010 on a scoreline of 4-7 to 1-11.
While the last time the sides met was in 2015, when McDermotts came out on top in their All Britain semi-final clash by 1-6 to 0-7, only to then lose out to Mitchels. Both sides have plenty of motivation going into Sunday’s final.
Connollys have unfinished business in the All Ireland, while McDermotts are out to end their 42-year wait for All Britain glory.
Will McDermotts’ tougher, tighter semi-final stand them in good stead? Will Connollys experience of winning All Britain titles prove decisive?
Sunday will tell all.