Shane O’Neill’s manager Pat ‘Boone’ O’Neill speaks with Brendan McTaggart after masterminding his side to Junior Championship glory….
There were fewer happier men on the Dunsilly pitch at the final whistle than Glenarm manager, Pat ‘Boone’ O’Neill. He had just masterminded the Shane O’Neill’s to junior success and he said the final was everything they were expecting: “It was a tough game. It was a typical final where everyone lifts their game and some go into their shell but as the game wore on we improved.
“Rasharkin played well.”
Kevin O’Boyle’s goal was ultimately the turning point for Glenarm. It breathed oxygen into their ranks and the Shane O’Neills never looked behind them. ‘Boone’ told us that in a game of this nature, a goal was always going to be decisive: “It came at the right time. It was the sort of game that a goal was always going to be decisive and so it proved. Thank God we got the goal.”
With that little bit of breathing space on the score line, the Glenarm players gew in confidence. None more than Niall McGarel. The Glenarm manager continued: “We have a lot of young players and we knew it was going to be a bit of a grind. We have the hurlers, we hoped their ability would come through and it did.
“Niall’s a special talent and when we need needed him he stood up. I thought Daniel Black had a magnificent game in midfield.”
Having tasted defeat at the same stage just 12 months ago, O’Neill told us the pain of that defeat was still fresh in their minds: “We were hurt last year. It was bad enough losing the final but to lose it the way we performed, we didn’t play the way we can play but Glenravel were the better team on the day last year but we regrouped. We did a lot of hard work in the gym through January and we knew we’d be back here and deliver this time.”
Saturday’s win signalled a 65 year wait since their last junior title and 24 years since their last championship win. It’s fair to say few would begrudge them their celebrations and the Glenarm manager was already thinking on Ulster: “This is our first championship in 24 years. We won an Intermediate Championship in 1998 and haven’t won one since. It’s worth the wait but I never thought it would be as long as it was but that’s hurling for you. There’s a lot of disappointments when you’re involved in this sport but this is a good day for Shane O’Neill’s.
“We’ll celebrate and regroup but we’ll look forward to Ulster and give it a good rattle.”