Intermediate Football Championship Final: Managers View

St Brigids View

Conway: “It is great to have these guys to show an example to the underage teams in the club.”

By Brendan McTaggart

He had just watched his side produce a strong second half performance to come back from three down with five first half minutes remaining, to win by eight.  St Brigids manager Eunan Conway was obviously delighted as he watched his side lift the Intermediate crown on Saturday afternoon but it was business as usual.  While his players accepted the congratulatory handshakes from their support, Conway was found lifting all the extras from their dug out.  Typical of a man who has been with the Musgrave Park side through thick and thin.  Conway gave us his initial thoughts on his sides victory when we caught up with him on the Ahoghill pitch: “I am delighted. It was a great second half performance. In the first half, we were just a bit off colour – we weren’t composed enough in the final third.”

The introduction of Ruaridh O’Neill proved to be a masterstroke by Conway and his management team as the St Brigids forward changed the dynamics of their forward line.  Conway paid tribute to the strength of his squad when he added: “We managed to get over the line. We have a good bench. We have some serious quality players to come on. That helped and we had fresh legs and it brought fresh impetus to us. Thankfully we took the chances when they came along.

“Ruaridh O’Neill was instrumental in getting scores at a vital time. He led the charge in the second half and was very influential.

“We are lucky to have a good panel of about 30 players who have knuckled down very well. All the players contributed to the cause and there are a few who didn’t get a run out who have trained very hard and aren’t far behind.

“We have a transformed from being a city-based team with a few culchies like myself, to being a Belfast-based club and we are bringing players through. We won the U16 (South Antrim) Championship on Friday night and now they have role models to look up to.

“It is great to have these guys to show an example to the underage teams in the club.”

With time running out in the first half, Dunloy led by three points.  St Brigids managed to reel the Cuchullains led in to just one point before the short whistle in a crucial period of the final.  Conway said that they felt that the Cuchullains lead was of their own doing: “That was vital. It wasn’t a game were Dunloy were massively ahead of us – we maybe could have been level when they were three ahead.

“They went three ahead, but we didn’t panic.

”We knew we would have a purple patch as well at some point. It was just a matter of taking your chances whenever they come along.”

Conway told us that they hadn’t even thought on who they would potentially face in the Ulster Championship before Saturday’s final and that they would enjoy their rewards for now:  “That’s for another day. We haven’t won an Antrim Championship since 2006 – that’s a long time ago. We won’t look forward to Ulster today – we’ll enjoy the celebrations.”

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Dunloy View

Dillon: “I’m disappointed but right now I don’t care about that.  I’m gutted for the lads.”

By Brendan McTaggart

Final defeats are never easy to take.  To comeback and make the decider the following year is even more difficult.  To taste defeat for the third year in succession at the final hurdle is stuff that nightmares are made off.  Dunloy manager Dominic Dillon was still trying to make sense of what had transpired as he walked off the Ahoghill pitch with his beleaguered band of brothers around him.  The Dunloy manager told us that his first reaction to the defeat is it’s the one that got away: “Look we’re devastated to be honest.  Despite this being the third time in a row that I’ve had to stand here and give this interview, it gets no easier.  Especially today.  Beforehand we felt that we had the team and game plan that would win out there today.”

St Brigids managed to plunder 1-3 in the closing stages to give the score line perhaps an unfair reflection and Dillon told us that he felt the game was decided by small margins: “Do I think there was eight points between the teams?  No, I think it was harsh.  Overall St Brigids were possibly the better team but it came down to small margins.  Missed chances at one end and chances taken at the other.

“When that happens in quick succession it can sap energy and knock your confidence.  I feel for the lads to be honest.  They’re a great bunch of lads and they didn’t deserve to lose out there today for the work and commitment they’ve shown us all year.  I’m disappointed but right now I don’t care about that.  I’m gutted for the lads.”

With just one point between the sides, Dunloy midfielder Conor McKinley was denied a major when St Brigids ‘keeper Stephen Morrissey produced an outstanding save to deny him.  Had Woody’s effort found the back of the net, it could have been a different story on Saturday.  One of the small margins that the Dunloy manager was alluding to previously but Dillon told us that he wasn’t pointing the finger of blame at anyone: “There’s no finger pointing by us.  Woody’s been brilliant for me since I’ve taken over as manager three years now and has been inspirational.  It was his point in injury time against Moneyglass that got us to the final in the first place so he more than played his part in our run.  A goal then would have made a difference but it wasn’t why we were beat today.”

The Dunloy manager refused to commit to another year at the helm of the Cuchullains, such was his disappointment at Saturday’s defeat, adding maybe it’s time for a fresh face in the Dunloy changing room: “I’m not going to make any hasty decisions now at this stage.  It’s tough to take another final defeat and it’s not going to be easy to try and pick yourself up after it.  That’s the third year in succession we’ve gone January to October only to fall at the final hurdle.  Maybe it’s time for someone else to take over and see if they can get that extra five or 10% out of these lads and get them over the line?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to think about that one over the next few weeks.”

“I am delighted. It was a great second half performance. In the first half, we were just a bit off colour – we weren’t composed enough in the final third. “We managed to get over the line. We have a good bench. We have some serious quality players to come on. That helped and we had fresh legs and it brought fresh impetus to us. Thankfully we took the chances when they came along. “Ruaridh O’Neill was instrumental in getting scores at a vital time. He led the charge in the second half and was very influential. Two big scores before half-time: That was vital. It wasn’t a game were Dunloy were massively ahead of us – we maybe could have been level when they were three ahead. “They went three ahead, but we didn’t panic. ”We knew we would have a purple patch as well at some point. It was just a matter of taking your chances whenever they come along. “I am delighted. It was a great second half performance. In the first half, we were just a bit off colour – we weren’t composed enough in the final third. “We managed to get over the line. We have a good bench. We have some serious quality players to come on. That helped and we had fresh legs and it brought fresh impetus to us. Thankfully we took the chances when they came along. “Ruaridh O’Neill was instrumental in getting scores at a vital time. He led the charge in the second half and was very influential. Two big scores before half-time: That was vital. It wasn’t a game were Dunloy were massively ahead of us – we maybe could have been level when they were three ahead. “They went three ahead, but we didn’t panic. ”We knew we would have a purple patch as well at some point. It was just a matter of taking your chances whenever they come along.

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