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Mark Rafferty. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Two confident teams will face each other in the first of this season’s All-Ireland senior football quarter finals.

“Derry will be confident but Clare will be equally confident”, according to Derry native and Clare based Mark Rafferty.

“Any time Derry have come to Ennis, Clare have always been able to handle them. When they met earlier this year Derry deserved their win but I wouldn’t read anything into that game. You can forget about league form at this time of the season. Clare won’t fear Derry” according to Rafferty.

The St Josephs Doora/Barefield clubman will travel to Croke Park on Saturday sporting his beloved Derry colours but he will be the only member of the family doing so as the others will all be sporting the saffron and blue of Clare.

Earlier this year his son Joe who is a member of the St. Josephs Doora/Barefield senior football team’s forward line, lined out for the Clare U20s in their Munster championship games against Tipperary and Kerry.

“There are six in the house and I am the only Derry person, so I am out voted this time. It will be the first time that I will be looking for a Clare football team to be beaten,” Mark admitted to The Clare Echo.

Glenullin native Mark won a championship with the Glen in 1985 with brothers Colm, Padraig and Seamus, before emigrating to Australia.He has lived in Clare for the last 20 years where he was a county minor selector.

Rafferty played at midfield for St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in the 2011 SFC Final defeat to Kilmurry Ibrickane before managing the club to the final 12 months later when they lost to the same opposition. Last year, he was in charge of the Doonbeg senior footballers.

No members of his former club are currently on the Derry panel. “Winning the Ulster title was a long time coming for Derry. When Kieran McKeever captained the team to the title in 1998 we didn’t think it would be as long before we won the title again. For a long time the club scene dominated but Rory Gallagher has changed that and he deserves credit”.

While Derry have brought a very defensive approach all year, Mark expects a variation this week as they wear the favourites tag. “Nowadays supporters aren’t worried whether a game is a spectacle or not and this year’s Ulster final wasn’t. Derry changed their style a bit and they had to to get over Donegal. At the end of the day supporters want the team to win and it doesn’t matter to the winners how victory is achieved. Supporters aren’t worried whether it’s a spectacle or not. In their games against Tyrone and Monaghan there was more emphasis on attacking whereas against Donegal they nearly had fifteen men behind the ball. Teams have to adopt tactics to beat the team they are playing and I believe that Derry will be a lot more attack minded this week”.

“There won’t be a whole lot in it at the end. Getting to the All-Ireland quarter final is good for the game in both counties. Whoever gets through on Saturday will face Galway or Armagh and both teams on Saturday will be saying that it’s there for them and they will be be asking how much do we want this. It would be some achievement for Clare to get to the next round,” he added.

Recalling Clare’s win over Roscommon in the last round, the Derry man said “it was a fantastic finish, the substitutes made a difference. Gavin Cooney and David Tubridy came on at the right time. Tubridy showed his experience and did the right thing with the possessions he won. It was great for Gavin as he hasn’t being going well this year. No matter what happens on Saturday I will have another day out”, he remarked.

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