MICKEY Conlon had previously tasted success as a minor manager back in 2016 when St Colmcille’s lifted the title following a final victory over Na Fianna.
This time Mickey, as he reflected on his side’s latest final win, was keen to stress that it was a joint venture alongside Stephen O’Brien, with Paddy Gillick also contributing a vital input as a selector.
“We were a point up at half-time and we probably didn’t deserve to be ahead, to be fair to Donaghmore/Ashbourne,” Conlon said.
“They missed a few chances and we kicked a couple of fine scores towards the end of the half, but we were glad to get the lads in at half-time.
“We were playing a little within ourselves and maybe waiting for someone else to come up with the goods. We spoke to them at half-time, ‘you have got to produce a performance, you have got to go out and win it’, and to a man they did that.
“The second half performance was excellent, they really stepped up to the plate.”
Cille’s mixed form in the opening half could be contributed to a number of factors according to Conlon - the big occasion and a massive crowd, as well as high expectations.
“Some of these lads were on last year’s team that lost to Dunshaughlin in the final and maybe they didn’t do themselves justice,” Conlon continued.
“There were of course expectations as well, a lot of guys had won an All-Ireland, but it has to be remembered that Ashbourne are a fine side. They won the league and they were very competitive against us in the championship earlier in the year.
“It took plenty of effort to stay with them in the first half but we are delighted that when we got our chances we took them in the second half. Christian Finlay’s goal, it was the type of thing we had been working on, a great run by Shaun Leonard and that gave us a good start.
“But Ashbourne came back at us and there was no way we were going to get an easy victory.”
Conlon had high praise for the work ethic of the players throughout, even when things weren’t going in their favour.
“We didn’t play well in the semi-final against Ratoath, but we never stopped working and we had to do the same again today. It’s championship, it’s Division 1, Ashbourne were determined to win it. They give it absolutely everything and it took people to be out on their feet to win it.
“Danny Ehichoya was a prime example. I thought he was excellent at wing forward and really came into it, but he had given his all with five or six minutes left.
“We decided to start Shaun Leonard in the inside forward line because his movement is really good in there, but it probably didn’t work.
“We always had it in our locker that if he wasn’t getting ball we were going to take him out and have all our best players in the middle third of the pitch.
“That worked for us, Shaun did ferocious work out the field as well as Christian Finlay, Oisin O Murchu, Luke Conlon, Eoin Gillick and Adrian Kavanagh. They are all really good grafters and inside Charlie Bacon and Aaron Grant showed up superbly even though they were playing against a sweeper.”