Gorts looking forward to Ulster campaign
By Brendan McTaggart
After being put to the sword in the closing stages of the decider, Gort na Móna Captain Padraig McHugh was a relieved man when we caught up with him on the Armoy pitch: “They put it up to us so they did but the lads dug in and battled hard in defence. The conditions there are awful, they may not seem too bad on the side line but there’s parts of the pitch that are seriously cut up, slippery and mucky but we got over the line and we’re back into the Intermediate and I believe that’s where we belong.”
McHugh paid tribute to the Gort defence for their defiance in the face of the Glenarm onslaught during the dying moments of the junior final: “The lads showed a bit of character towards the end and the defence was immense. We were defending for our lives in there and there was people putting their bodies on the line so fair play to the lads for showing that commitment to the Gort shirt.”
Some had questioned the Gorts for dropping into the junior championship but as McHugh told us, the Turf Lodge side have been struggling: “We’ve had a lot of guys that have left through immigration with work and stuff. We’re a small dual club and we’re battling against the tide in west Belfast. We’ve got St John’s and Rossa around us and there’s some players that we’ve brought up that have ended up at St John’s or Rossa which is a bit hard to take for a small club with those two right beside us but that’s us back where we belong.
“We definitely needed this. Hurling was struggling, down in numbers and hopefully this gives the young lads the belief that they can be part of something special at Gort na Móna.”
The conditions played a major role in the outcome of the final and the Gorts Captain told us that they are capable of more but they have their eyes fixed on a run in the Ulster championship: “We never really got out of second gear to be honest. We’re a lot better than that but not making excuses, the conditions were terrible but we’re over the line and it’s all about Ulster now.
“It’s nine years since we had an Ulster campaign, we won the Ulster Intermediate nine years ago and that’s a long time for a lot of those lads out there. We’ve been battling against the tide with the clubs around us and being a small club, alternating between the codes on a Wednesday and Sunday. If you pick up injuries you’re in trouble so it’s good to have some reward for all the years of work that these lads have put in.”
McDermott hopeful for the future
By Brendan McTaggart
Team Captain Brendan McDermott was the picture of devastation as he left the Armoy pitch on Saturday afternoon. No-one likes doing the interview after a defeat and after a final loss it’s more sickening but the Glenarm man gave us his thoughts before leading his team back to the changing rooms.
The Glenarm half forward bemoaned his sides slow start to the match: “It seems to be our way. We don’t get out of the blocks in the first half. We didn’t even get out of the blocks until the last ten minutes of the match and everyone seemed to want it that wee bit more.”
His side almost completely a remarkable comeback in the closing stages, getting to within two points of the Gorts after trailing by ten points but McDermott paid tribute to the Turf Lodge men when he added: “We just ran out of time and fair play to Gort na Mona for holding out in the end.”
Despite playing second fiddle to the Gorts for large periods of the first half, only three points separated the sides at the interval with the elements in Glenarm’s favour in the second half. McDermott told us that the occasion may have gotten to his side in the second half: “We weren’t even thinking on the breeze at half time. To be honest, it’s a really young side we have there and nerves played a major part for a lot of these lads. It seemed to be that it took over some of the young boys but look, it is what it is and I wish Gort na Móna all the best in Ulster but I wish it was us.”
Glenarm’s search and wait for junior honours continues but McDermott told us that Saturday will hopefully be used as a stepping stone for this young side: “It’s all about stepping blocks for us. This is a very young side and even next year there should be a crop coming up from the minors into the seniors next year and that’s something to look forward to.”