Cushendall manager Brian Delargy speaks with Brendan McTaggart after his side lost narrowly to Dunloy in the championship decider….
Cushendall manager Brian Delargy was making his way off the Corrigan Park pitch when we caught up with him on Sunday. He had just witnessed his side push the reigning champions to the pin of their collar in an enthralling final where the Ruairi’s looked like they had the Cuchullains number on the day. During our interview, Cushendall legend Sambo McNaughton congratulated Delargy for his efforts saying: “Well set up man, you’s did everything right. You can’t be faulted. Just a little bit of luck, nothing wrong with that.” Praise indeed if it were needed for Delargy but the Cushendall manager said their game plan was all about the work he, his backroom team and players put in as they prepared for the final: “We sat down last week to think on a plan for Dunloy, between the players and the management team we knew we’d have to stop Dunloy’s dangermen and get enough up top as well. A lot of it went right today but their big players got the scores when it mattered.”
The final score certainly didn’t do the Ruairi’s justice. Six points was never a fair reflection on the game but Delargy said the score line mattered little: “When we were pushing up we knew we were leaving ourselves short at the back. Just two men inside 40 or 50 yards. We pushed up and maybe took away some of the space for our forwards but the game took a run of itself and it’s hard to control. Six points or one point, it was never going to matter at that stage.”
The Ruairi’s made a dream start with Cormac McClafferty’s goal coming inside the first 20 seconds. Delargy said the start was by design: “We had planned to do that. We pushed Ryan (McCambridge) inside with Neil (McManus) alongside him. If we won the throw in, we were sending in a high ball and it worked but we try to plan everything as a management team, we pulled that one off today and it wasn’t by fluke either.”
Delargy continued: “I’m serious proud of them to be honest, Brendan. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Yes they hit a few wides and a few handpasses here and there but they done me proud and done Cushendall proud the way they performed and that’s all you can ask for.
“When we were coming up in the bus, you want a performance and hopefully the result looks after itself. It’s going to be hard to take over the next few days but I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The Cushendall challenge stumbled in the closing stages and Dunloy showed their championship pedigree to get over the line. The Ruairi’s scored just one point in the closing 14 or so minutes and a number of wides hurt their push for the Volunteer Cup. Delargy commented: “There was a period and to be fair they were shots from good areas and the boys that you want taking your shots. We had a goal chance and they turned it over, went up the field and Keelan Molloy gets onto a trademark break to hit a worldy. It’s a game of inches.
“I know Dunloy have four in a row. We were close today but we think we’re close everyday. Someday we’ll get them.”
In one of the best finals in living memory, Cushendall more than contributed to an epic game and Delargy said he hopes that despite defeat, they have put some rumours to bed: “I think we play a good brand of hurling now. There’s a myth going about that because we’ve been on the stream so much that everybody thinks we’re slow and dogged and stuttering, our boys just proved today that we can hurl with anybody in Antrim. Our lads are some of the best players in the county team, it’s maybe put away some of that myth. We can play a bit of hurling as well.
“I’m seriously proud. As a manager you try and set everything up and let them show the work they’ve been doing and they done that today. They just came up against a good Dunloy team.”