In the lead up to Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate hurling final the Saffron Gael speaks to St. Gall’s player, CJ McGourty. CJ has always been a colourful character. He has played for St. Gall’s and Antrim all his playing career and has represented the county in both football and hurling.
CJ’s scoring has played an important part in St. Gall’s run to this Sunday’s final and a big performance from their leading scorer could be vital if they are to overcome the challenge of the Armagh champions.
Rated one of the best forwards in Antrim in both football and hurling, CJ McGourty has the trophy collection to prove it including an All Ireland club football medal won with St. Galls and we spoke to him prior to this Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate hurling final against Keady Lamh Dhearg at Pairc Esler
Saffron Gael: CJ, your team play Keady Lamh Dhearg in the Ulster Intermediate final on Sunday. What do you know about the Armagh champions?
CJ: Keady are a very good hurling team they’re also able to mix it physically with a lot of key players that can hurt any team. they beat Middletown in the Armagh final, a side who won this competition last year and since then have beat everyone handy. So they’re a very good team.
S.G. St. Gall’s had a bad start to this year’s ACHL division 2 campaign and I know that you and a number of players missed the early stages of the league through injuries and other reasons. Who were the other players who missed those games and how did their return affect the good run that saw St. Gall’s gain promotion.
C.J. We had a very poor start to the year indeed but we had little work done. early summer time we had boys coming back from injury and a few boys coming back from time off and a break!! We started to get a win or two and since then we started to hurl a little better.
S.G. You had a tuff Antrim championship campaign, beating Gort na Mona, Glenariffe, St. Enda’s and then Creggan in a tight final. What are your recollections of those games?
C.J. Antrim championships are never easy won. We set out as we always do to try to win it. But Gort na Mona gave us some test in the first round and we just about managed the game through in the end. St Enda’s we hurled very well and won handy enough and the final against Creggan we were lucky to be honest. We had a bad start then but started to get going late in the game and probably stole it in the end.
S.G. In periods during most of these games St. Gall’s have dominated but at other stages they appear to have switched off, allowing their opponents to take control. That happened during the Ulster semi-final against Swatragh and you were perhaps fortunate to take the game into extra time. Has this been a concern for the team and the management?
C.J. Like any game of hurling and any sport you have your periods of dominance and periods of struggling. But we have looked to address that and for sure we can’t win on Sunday without scoring for 16 minutes. I thought we deserved to win over the 80 minutes against Swatragh though.
S.G. You received a Red card in the quarter-final against Lisbellaw which was subsequently rescinded on appeal. Tell me what happened there?
C.J. Sending off was a bit of a joke I pulled a man by the jersey and the ref said I pulled him by face guard. Video evidence at the appeal was very clear.
S.G. You have been in good form for St. Gall’s this year and have top scored in some of their championship outings. How do you feel you have performed yourself?
C.J. Look it’s a team game and everyone has to play their part. Again like said above you have your good moments in a game and poor moments. But lucky enough when one person’s having an off day someone else has stepped up.
S.G. You have played in quite a few finals for St. Gall’s over the years. How will this one compare with the others you have played in and how do you think St. Gall’s will do?
C.J. An Ulster final is massive for our club in any code!! We are delighted to be there but no, we go in as slight underdogs but Ulster championship games are always tight and we hope on Sunday to get a bit of luck and get over the line.
CJ McGourty, the Saffron Gael man of the match against Creggan in the Antrim final. Can he help St. Gall’s to an Ulster title when they face Keady Lamh Dhearg in the final in Newry on Sunday ?