Derek’s net gains

Derek Thompson is probably the most experienced player on the St. Faithleachs team. The former county star is back between the posts and playing better than ever. In fact against Elphin in the quarter-final he was the man of the match, making several brilliant saves and with his long, accurate kick-outs launching many a St. Faithleachs attack.   Derek says he’s enjoying every minute of his football at the moment. ‘It’s brilliant to be back. When you are as long on the go as I am you realise that you don’t get to play in county finals too often but we are back in another final and it’s a tribute to the hard work put in by all the panel’ he said.    I asked him about his own form this year, which has been excellent. ‘Yeah, it’s going well. I have a lot of miles on the clock and I suppose experience is a bonus but it’s also great credit to the lads in the backline. We have been together now as a unit for almost three years. We have different guys coming in there and they have all been doing well so that makes my job easier."    What does the goalkeeper feel is the difference between this Faithleachs team of the last two years and other Faithleachs teams in the past. ‘I always go back to 1992 when we won the Intermediate title. Kevin McStay was our manager then and what he did was to get ordinary club players to play up to the standard of the better, more skilful and more experienced members of the team, and it worked really well. I see that happening in this set-up. We have a number of very skilful and experienced players and then we have the ordinary club players who are being brought on in leaps and bounds – and that’s the key in my book. Every player need to contribute and that’s what’s happening now’ he says.    An somewhat unusual feature of the final is that the two most experienced players on the field on Sunday will be the goalkeepers. Shane Curran is of course in goal for Brigids. The pair were members of the Roscommon panel for many years.    ‘I get on very well with Shane. I saw him playing against St. Aidans earlier in the year and afterwards he told me that they (Brigids) were going to win the All-Ireland (laughs) – but we might have something to say about that on Sunday!’ Derek laughed. "Shane is a great servant to Brigids and Roscommon and when it’s all over on Sunday we will shake hands and remain the best of friends.’   The strength in depth of Faithleachs has been much commented on this year.  Derek says that the panel hasn’t changed much, it’s just that the players are maturing. "We have much the same panel but some of the younger lads have got much stronger this year. We have experienced what it is like to lose and that will stand to us. Even the kick in the backside that we got in Kilmore was a lesson that we have learned.’   I asked Derek about St. Brigids. Could Faithleachs bridge the gap from last year’s final? ‘We were close to them last year but whether they were firing on all cylinders or not is another question…maybe they had a bit more in the tank. Look, they are the Connacht champions and they almost beat Crossmaglen in an All-Ireland semi-final. We have the height of respect for them. They are going for three in a row and are beginning to dominate. It will take a mammoth effort to overcome them, that’s for sure. We know however that there is only one team left in this competition that can deny them, and that’s us. We will give it a mighty lash, that’s for sure, and we will see what happens’ he concluded.