It’s going to be a hard act to follow, nobody doubts that; and anyway - all dreams have to come to an end, right?
Last year was almost pure Hollywood for everyone dipped in green and white in Haggardstown. A return to Senior Championship football was topped off with a Leinster title and then the almost dream of an All-Ireland final appearance was dashed on the rocks in the semi final against Truagh of Monaghan in Crossmaglen.
Yet speaking to Geraldines manager Eamon McEneaney last week, it’s clear that reality has taken a large bite this year. Hovering just above the relegation places in Division One of the league and nursing a full to capacity sick bay - all is not quite rosy in the Gers garden right now.
“It was a long year last year and we’re struggling with injuries and missing lads,” offered the Monaghan man. “At the minute we’ve seven or eight players missing. Hopefully that might reduce before the Championship. But we’ll still be short maybe four or five come the first game with St Mary’s.”
One of those who should make a return is World Cup expert Barry Hamilton. The ever-smiling Gers man took up residence with the Croatian national team in Brazil for the duration of their stay in that competition, but he’s back on these shores now.
Elsewhere, Sean ‘Speedy’ Thornton is on the ‘snowball’s chance in hell list’ following a cruciate injury earlier this year. While Glen Trainor has taken flight to America for the summer. All in all, it’s not the best of preparations for a tilt at Joe Ward.
McEneaney is playing down any such title talk, naturally.
“Certainly we’ll be going out to do as good as we can in each game. But it’s a different kettle of fish this year. We’ve a tough first match against St Mary’s, who did very well last year.
“In fact all three teams in our group will be looking at it the same way. Kilkerley have already beaten us in the league this year, so they’ll be another tough proposition,” adds the former Louth boss.
The one upside of last year is that the expectation of a crowd pleasing sequel this year is unlikely to play a big factor. The pressure of 2013 was a lot to take on agrees McEneaney, but it will stand them in good stead all the same.
“The expectation this year isn’t great. Last year brought its own level of pressure, which, in fairness to the lads, they took in their stride. We made great progress, but this year is a tall order. We’re hoping to hold our own and we’re not looking past St Mary’s yet.”
The elephant in the room during all this talk of injuries, is, of course McEneaney’s son Jim. A talisman for Geraldines last year, McEneaney jnr has been MIA since then. A groin injury which has become worryingly persistent has ruled him out of action so far, and his chances of returning for the Championship are, at best, slim.
“It’s a big blow for Jim,” laments McEneaney snr. “We’ve tried a lot of treatments and methods over the last number of months, but it hasn’t cleared up yet.”
They’re out of their comfort zone in the Senior Championship and they’re shipping injuries, not much chance of progress so. But then again, with wily Eamon McEneaney driving the bus, who knows where 2014 might bring Geraldines.