By Brendan McTaggart
Cargin manager Damian Cassidy made it two from two on Saturday afternoon. In the second year of his tenure as Cargin manager, the Bellaghy native has made it back to back titles and he was delighted to have saw his team finally get over the line.
The Erins Own men were pushed to the limit over the two games and had to delve into their vast resources to get over the line. Their character and temperament were stretched while mentally, Cargin were pushed to a place they haven’t been this year. Cassidy’s men responded in kind to edge Lámh Dhearg and he told us: “It’s (performance) very pleasing, there’s no other way to describe it. One of the most important qualities in championship football is that thing inside you that keeps you going. You never stop, never submit, that resilience and stubbornness. You have to have that in bucketful’s.
“To be fair to Lámh Dhearg, they’ve had a fantastic campaign and they’ve demonstrated they have those qualities throughout the championship. They’ll be massively disappointed but they can be very proud and their club and community can be proud of their players.
“When I look at that period of extra time and the players who are legend around the club that weren’t involved that we would have been looking to for leadership and inspiration, the other lads that we’ve played through last year and this year who’ve came on, they made significant contributions in that period of extra time.
“That work was valuable and when all of that comes to roost, to say I’m proud of them is an understatement.”
Cassidy couldn’t hide his frustration with the amount of injury time played at the end of the hour and extra time when he continued: “The referee found this incredible amount of injury time at the end of a ten minute game and the crowd were in disgust at what they were actually watching. I couldn’t believe what I was watching on the sideline but the other side, even though we wanted the game to finish, in that period of injury time, I couldn’t see us losing if I’m honest. I just felt we had all the aces and that’s not to say people can’t make mistakes and something could happen, I appreciate that but we just looked, in comparison to the end of normal time, we looked like we’d significantly learned from that. We didn’t sit back, we drove on and attacked the game and the ball.
“We invited Lámh Dhearg on and let them back into it at the end of normal time.”
The Hannahstown men had Cargin on the ropes in the closing stages and Cassidy’s men let a four point lead slip with Lámh Dhearg forcing extra time. “The psychological swing is massive” added the Cargin manager. “We all know that and all the lads felt like they threw that game away. I’m glad to say I’ve been involved in a few of these with Clonoe where we went to extra time and had to show that resolve. I had the experience of knowing what to say, what to talk about, what to focus on and to get our attention on the detail we needed to kick on in extra time.”
Cassidy downplayed any notion of tiredness as the Toome men now turn their gaze to the Ulster club championship: “These two games will bring us on a mountain. That was my worry before the game before and we talked about this beforehand. The momentum Lámh Dhearg would carry into playing us, the sharpness, the composure under pressure, it would have been finely tuned in those games against Portglenone.
“We never got out of first gear against Rossa and we weren’t stretched against St Galls and I knew we were vulnerable going into that game. Lámh Dhearg really went at the game and knew we were going to struggle a bit as it would take us a while to get into the game and that’s how it transpired in the first half.
“We dragged ourselves into it. There was two games in a row where there’s been tremendous heart in the lads. You can’t buy that stuff.
“To see players coming out into a cauldron, gladiators in front of maybe three, four or five thousand people. They have to show their character and their worth. As I said to the players, there isn’t that many places in life where you expose your character. You might have problems at home, you might have problems at work, you might have problems in other places. But this is the one place where you character is truly stripped bare and that’s the auditorium you’re in.
“The Cargin men showed last week and this week they’ve got serious, serious character.”