Managers view….Tony McNulty – St Johns
Johnnies “Live to fight another day…”
By Brendan McTaggart
St Johns manager Tony McNulty was still recovering from the nail biting finale to the semi-final at Pearse Park when we caught up with him on the pitch. On a match where both sides squandered chances and missed frees, the Johnnies manager said the elements played havoc but for both teams: “They missed frees and so did we. The wind was crazy, fairly deceiving. Conor Johnston, Micheal Bradley and then Ciaran. It was unusual, Neil McManus missing a few as well. The wind is crazy though and some people won’t allow for that.”
With the unsavoury scenes towards the end of the game happening right infront of him, McNulty said it all started from a case of mistaken identity: “It was a Cushendall man that hit his own man then a few boys got involved.” McNulty continued: “In a game that was so good, it didn’t need that.”
Five points with five minutes remaining and four with two minutes of normal time, McNulty told us they were content with a draw in the end although he did think he had a case of déja vous: “A draw was a fair result for both teams.
“We did think ‘here we go again’. Four points up before they got the goal. We came down and then they replied.
“It shows how much we’ve progressed in the three years since and Simon McCrory had been injured coming into the match. We had to spring him and he made a massive difference when he came on.”
McNulty praised man of the match Ciaran Johnston for holding his nerve over the last free after the delay: “He scored the previous two but it still took serious nerve to step up and nail that score.”
St Johns led for the majority of the second half but needed Johnston’s long range free at the death to force a replay. McNulty praised his team when he concluded: “I thought we were super. It’s another day for us. What we showed today is we’re up there with the rest of them. We live to fight another day.”
Managers view….Eamon Gillan – Cushendall
Ruairi’s happy to get out of jail…
As the Ruairi’s made their way off the Pearse Park pitch, the Cushendall management team were deep in conversation as the analysis of the drawn semi-final began. Team manager Eamon Gillan spoke with us as we headed towards the changing rooms and gave us his initial assessment of the game: “St Johns were the superior team in the first half although there was only a point in it. We seemed to be nervous with two or three young boys on which isn’t unexpected.”
The Ruairi’s strength in depth seemed to have changed the momentum at the death with Alex Delargy and Natty McNaughton both having a major impact from the bench. Gillan told us that it took a serious effort from his side to get back into the game: “We got our way into the match at the start of the second half until they scored their goal. It was a huge score for them but we kept going. We made a couple of changes that helped and we ground out a draw.”
Despite St Johns adding the late equaliser, the Cushendall manager told us that he believes the Whiterock Road side will feel deflated at the result: “St Johns will probably feel worse leaving the pitch because they will feel they should have won the match. That being said, we went over time, got a free, I thought it was a soft enough decision.”
Gillan continued by adding the Ruairi’s weren’t at their best on the afternoon, only really coming to life in the last quarter when they looked like exiting the championship: “I think we were below par. The last 10 minutes we came into the match and really went for it. Made a few changes and possibly could have won that match but we’re happy enough to get the draw. I think a draw was the fair result on the day. We’ll take it.”