BY RONAN SCOTT
Ulster Club Senior Football championship preliminary round
Cargin (Antrim) v Derrygonnelly Harps (Fermanagh)
Sunday, Corrigan Park, 2.30pm
Cargin manager Damien Cassiidy knows plenty about the Ulster Club championship.
He’s won and lost as a player with Bellaghy, and he’s coached both Clonoe and Cargin at the provincial competition. Cargin have had frustrating performances at the competition in recent years.
They lost to Gaoth Dobhair last year, the eventual winners. In 2015 they were beat by Crossmaglen Rangers who went on to win the title. And in 2016 they were beat by Tyrone champions Killyclogher.
“I think that every time you get a chance to play in the Ulster club championship you should embrace it,” Cassidy said.
“I was fortunate to be involved in a few with Bellaghy. We won some and we lost some. You learn that they do not come every year. Cargin have had three or four defeats. They have to put their best foot forward.”
Had there not been so many draws in the championship in Antrim, Cargin may have had a little more time to prepare for this weekend’s Ulster Club game.
Cassidy wasn’t overly perturbed about that. He said that he wasn’t complaining about the short turn aroud, and that the team would make sure to make the most of their victory.
“Players are allowed to enjoy the experience of winning championships. So they did that this week.”
Nor was he worried about being underprepared for Derrygonnelly.
“We will be getting our analysis out to players. It is a lot easier to prepare for matches these days, than it was ten years ago.”
Cargin saw off Lamh Dhearg at the second time of asking last week, in yet another close game.
“We had a better start than the previous game. In the second half, things increased in intensity. We were four points up, and could have been more. But the referee somehow found a whole lot of time to play.
“We have to take responsibility for allowing them back into the game.
“I still can’t get over the amount of time that the referee found.”
Cargin had led by 2-4 to 0-9 in the first half thanks to goals from Tomas McCann and Michael Magill.
In the second half, Magill got their third goal, but Lamh Dhearg were able to draw level with a string of points.
Lamh Dhearg had a man sent off and Cargin stretched away. However, they were reeled in, and Paddy Cunningham’s two frees sent the game to extra time.
The game remained close up until the second half of extra time, as Tomas McCann was on target. Jamie Gribben landed the insurance point to leave it 3-16 to 0-23 at the final whistle.
Cassidy pointed out that the achievement was all the greater for the amount of players that they lost during the game.
Michael McCann had to go off injured as did Gerard McCann, while Paul McCann was sent off on a black card.
Cassidy was confused as to why that incident was a black card, while others went unpunished.
“There are lots of incidents in the game that are not reported on. That is the nature of the game. People are making split second decisions.
“The game was a lot harder without those players.
“The rest of our team had to put their best foot forward.
“It was nip and tuck in injury time. In the second period we took over the game. Yet in that ten minute period of extra time the referee somehow found five minutes if injury time to play.
“I was pleased that we didn’t sit back. We pushed on.”
But Cassidy said that while the game was close, he always felt that Cargin were the better team.
“After the first day, Lamh Dhearg probably thought that they had the winning of the game.
“But because they couldn’t put us away the first day, then I couldn’t see how they would do so on the second day.
“It came down to mental resolve.”