“The key thing behind it is that they’re all in school together in Rathdrum, the majority of them either have gone to school or are in school. That’s the key thing,”
After every score during the quality battle between Michael Hogans and Tomacork in Annacurra last Friday night it was abundantly clear just how much the side featuring players from Avondale, Ballinacor, Avoca and Laragh wanted to win the decider.
And then when the final whistle sounded it was made even clearer with the hearty roar rising into the black January night by the Derry River.
Hogans threatened to run riot in this game, but they could never shake Tomacork off, something Michael O’Neill says they fully expected having already experienced the Carnew and Shillelagh-Coolboy combination in Carnew earlier in the competition.
“We made hard work of it,” said the Avoca GAA Club man. “In that third quarter they came back strong. At half-time we were well up. We knew they were going to come back strong, but I thought in the last quarter we dug deep and did what we had to do to win it. Some of our big players came up at big times in the match.
“We knew from the first day we played them down in Carnew that they were not going to be any pushovers. They’re a strong outfit. Any Carnew team is always going to be a strong outfit. You won’t get any easy games off them,” he added.
Overall Michael O’Neill was impressed by the standard of football and footballers that were on show in this competition and he says that competitive games such as the one on Friday night will stand to all the players going forward.
“There are some very talented lads on both teams, an awful lot of county players on both teams. There was a good standard of football played, a good high tempo and it will stand to those players going forward.
“It’s a good competition. We’re delighted with how it went. Delighted to get the win, obviously. But to get the clubs together, it’s brilliant. Michael Hogans have been in situ for three championships, and we’ve had three finals and won two of them. Hopefully we can keep it going. Everyone who has played in it has given positive feedback from it. Me being an Avoca man, from an Avoca point of view it’s been brilliant for us. It’s been a pleasure to play with the other clubs.
“The key thing behind it is that they’re all in school together in Rathdrum, the majority of them either have gone to school or are in school. That’s the key thing,” he said.
On the subject of Avoca, it’s a very positive period for the Rooster Park club. How hopeful is O’Neill for the future.
“We’re maintaining our record from last year, every team we put out got to a county final, from 11s up to the two adult teams. We’re pleased. We hope we’re going to make progress and push on to the next stage,” he said.