HURLING is more fun.
That’s the assessment of Coleraine’s Ciaran McGoldrick.
When the Eoghan Ruas are knocked out of the football championship they go into mourning. However, when it comes to the hurling side of the club, everything is a bit more craic. They enjoy it more, and it strengthens the bond between the players.
The McGoldrick name is a familiar one in Coleraine. Sean manages the team along with Joe Passmore, and his sons are key players.
One of those, the 33-year-old Ciaran says that playing with family and close friends is still great.
“We all get on so well. We are all friends.
“Maybe not all teams have that.”
And that is one of the great strengths of the Coleraine club. They are famously small and close knit, with small numbers. Yet they exceed expectations. They’ve won two Derry senior football championships, and they reached the All-Ireland junior club final in 2016.
“We had a good run four years ago. This year’s team isn’t as strong as that one. We have players that have the experience.”
Certainly the experience of playing football helps the club. They have been in tough games, competitive matches, and played against top football teams.
“We are fortunate that we have got a lot of senior footballers who are fit and dedicated. They can have those skills but they might not have the hurling skills.”
McGoldrick says that is what happens in the Derry hurling league. The Coleraine players have experience of winning at Ulster Club junior and intermediate level, but in Derry senior hurling, they have suffered some hammerings, which suggests that they are still a good way off being able to challenge in hurling in the same way they do at football.
“We played in the north Antrim leagues before but this year we played in Derry. That gave us confidence that we could compete. But we did get some hammerings. Overall I think it helped us.
“We thought it was the better action to take.”
Their thinking is that they want players to get used to playing the best teams in Derry so that they can gradually improve. They also want the younger members of the squad to understand that the club is seeking to progress. They have players such as Leo Passmore, who is one of the younger players on the team, who is one of the next generation.
“We have always been a football club first, and that has meant the hurling has suffered.”
Yet while the football is taken more seriously, there is an argument that the hurling outlet is as important to the club’s identity.
“The hurling is about having the craic,” McGoldrick said.
“The football is serious. If you don’t win there is mourning. It is life or death.
“The hurling is a lot more relaxed. Maybe that is better.”
McGoldrick explained that they have put a lot of work into this year’s Ulster Club series, as they are expecting to be underdogs.
“We have done quite a bit of training. But we will be up against it. They will be favourites. We would not have the same amount of stick work done as they have. But we are going to give it a go.”
McGoldrick believes that the Shamrocks will have had much more competitive games that Eoghan Rua.
The Derry representatives have beaten Mullahoran and Inniskeen on the way to this final, and their worry is that that won’t be enough competitive action to prepare them for the Shamrocks.
“We don’t know an awful lot about them. But they will be favourites because they beat Gort na Mona. I thought that Gort na Mona would win that one as they are a good team.”
But now they go out to try and upset the odds.
“It would be great for us to win it. It would be great for everyone involved in the club, for all the work that they have put in.
“We all get on so well. We are all friends.”