By Kevin Herron
Creggan’s Sam Maguire admits that an Ulster Club Championship clash in December was never mentioned between the players this year.
After clinching the Padraig McNamee Cup on November 14th with a win over Aghagallon- that changed and the Staffordstown Road outfit were able to extend their campaign for another few weeks at least.
On Sunday the Antrim Champions take on Armagh’s Clann Eirann in the Ulster Championship (1.30 throw-in) at Corrigan.
Maguire believes the game is a free hit for him and his team-mates and is adamant they will give their all for the club and for Antrim itself.
“To be honest, Ulster has never ever been mentioned in our squad”, Maguire revealed.
“The people around the club have maybe talked about it – but we never looked beyond winning Antrim. We’ll go and we’ve got a free hit and we’ll go and give our all for Creggan and for Antrim and hopefully it will be enough”.
Maguire has one of the most famous names in GAA history and wrote his name in Creggan folklore with a late goal to see off Aghagallon in the County final.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath, Maguire felt the victory was credit to the squad for continuing to push year on year.
“It was something else, you train so hard and only dream of days like this”, he said.
“We’ve been through the ringer in the last couple of years- we pushed and pushed and pushed and kept coming back. I think it’s credit to us and the boys that we finally got there”.
Maguire was keen to pay tribute to Aghagallon and believes they will be back challenging again next year.
“We knew they were never going to go away”,Maguire believed.
“They’re young, they’re fit, they’re on the crest of a wave with U-15, minor and everything was good around their club. We knew they weren’t going to lie down until the final whistle. They’d a couple of goal chances at the end and two-blocks in a row- they’re the small moments.
“They went our way, they’ve went against us in the past and it went our way today. No doubt, Aghagallon will be back without a doubt they’ll be back and challenging next year”.
Having been beaten in the 2018 and 2020 deciders by near neighbours Cargin, Maguire acknowledged the hurt of those two defeats and felt that experience stood by them.
“I think the experience absolutely stood by us”, reflected Maguire.
“There were times that we could have panicked, we hit a couple short and in the past we might have hit the panic button and it wouldn’t have went our way.
“But we kept composed, we kept the ball moving and kept the scoreboard ticking over. The goal came from Aghagallon pushing up and trying to get the equalising score themselves and it opened up for us. Definitely, the last two finals and the hurt alone has drove us on and the composure has stuck by us”.
The old saying that “you can dream of these occasions” was true for Maguire the night before the final as he revealed that he feel asleep carrying out his paternal duties and his dream most certainly came true.
“I fell asleep the night before feeding the wein and the wife took a photo of me”, revealed Maguire.
“It made its way into the WhatsApp group and I joked that was me kicking the winner and here we are- maybe it wasn’t the winner but it certainly felt like and the feeling was unreal”.