Managers View – Eamon Gillan, Cushendall
By Brendan McTaggart
“Expected nothing less. It turned out we had a bit to spare in the end but they kept chipping and chipping. The goal was huge for us and we pushed on from there. It was a tough game but we looked in command for a lot of it.” The immediate reaction from Cushendall manager Eamon Gillan to his sides three point win over Loughgiel on Sunday afternoon.
After a decent start by the Ruairi’s, Loughgiel looked to edging the game until Paddy Burke landed the first goal. Gillan told us the experience of the previous two final defeats helped them regain control while the momentum gathered from the two matches against St Johns proved pivotal: “The guys were really up for it. They were bouncing before going out. Maybe it was losing the last two, I don’t know. Last year, a different opposition but they felt like they didn’t so themselves justice. In the end, they lost the match, deservedly in the end but they used that for this year.
“I think the extra game against St Johns didn’t do us any harm. It was tough, tough matches. You know, people haven’t given St Johns the credit they deserve but it played into our hands. They were tough games, we got over the line, albeit just but it definitely stood to us.”
In a gritty hour of hurling when scores and space were scarce, Gillan singled out two individuals when adding: “Natty was superb in the first half. Knocked over two or three great scores at a time when a point was a big score.
“Eoghan Campbell was outstanding for a man who is carrying a broken bone. We got a special cover for it but he played through the pain threshold. The only time he was in pain was when he actually hit the ball. The pain isn’t there when his arm’s in a natural position but he covered some ground.
“He’s a great hurler. The perfect sweeper. I know they pushed up on him in the second half and we lost our momentum for maybe a ten minute period but we were expecting them to do it earlier than that.”
The Cushendall manager reserved praise for his native club when he concluded: “Loughgiel aren’t a bad side. They’re a good side but they just lost that wee bit of momentum today and lost a bit of composure but let me tell you something, they’re still a good outfit and to be respected.”
“They won’t be far away again next year. I think the championship will be something similar next year which is only good for Antrim hurling but therein lays the problem. How can you get this transferred into the county set up?” The conundrum that has faced the Antrim hurling management teams for the better part of 30 years but for now Gillan was a happy man leaving Páirc MacUílin having finally tasted success as a manager on senior final day after two previous defeats in the decider.