By Shaun Casey
IT’S been a long time coming for Loughgiel. For the last seven years, they’ve played second fiddle to a dominant Sleacht Néill outfit, but they reversed their fortunes last Saturday afternoon. The Shamrocks were the better team on display, but it took all their might to finally shake off a determined Sleacht Néill side.
“It’s been a long seven years so to finally getting over the line against a strong side like Sleacht Néill, it’s definitely an amazing feeling,” said full-forward Roisin McCormick.
“We actually talked about the fact that we had nothing to lose coming into this final. The aim was to just go in, put your heart and soul into it and attack it from the start and that’s what we did.
“We hit them hard and got those two goals at the start and just kept pushing on from there. It got tight at the end there, but I think just that hurt from the last seven years is what got us over the line in the end.”
Two early goals from star player McCormick and Caitrin Dobbin gave Loughgiel a solid platform to build upon. “The goals were brilliant to literally just get the team going and get us into the game. We hit them from the start and thank God they paid off.”
McCormick picked up the Player of the Match award for her contribution of 1-6 (1-5 from play) but hailed the effort of her teammates for her own performance.
“I was out for ten weeks, I had damaged ligaments in my ankle and I’m actually in Dublin at the minute so I’m not there as much as I should be. It was really up in the air whether I would be starting but it was a good performance.
“My own performance only reflects how the team performed. I would not have played to that standard if my teammates didn’t play up to that standard, so it all comes down to them and the team and how they made me the player I was today.
“The defence was outstanding and credit to them. I don’t know how they do it, but they kept pushing on right throughout the entire game and got the ball up to the forwards as quickly and as often as possible and we just made do with what we had.”
The impact of manager Brendan Dillon, in his first year, was crucial to getting Loughgiel over the line.
“We had fresh new faces in there this year, and you do love to see it. Credit to the last few managers, they had us here every single year as well, but we just didn’t have that extra go to get us across the line.
“But Benny, ‘Duck’ (Mark McFadden, Conor (Higgins) all of them, credit to them because they came in this year, new faces, new strategy and a completely new team because we have quite a few missing. They changed things up and it was all for the better.”