Monday 20 January 2020

O'Mullan hails star performer

MARIE CROWE

When the final whistle blew in the All-Ireland club hurling final, Loughgiel's Liam Watson grabbed the match sliotár. Having racked up 3-7 against Coolderry, he definitely deserved his prize.

Loughgiel manager PJ O'Mullan said Watson is in the form of his life. "I think everyone in Ireland knows about Liam. The press gets plenty off him and you see what he is like. He doesn't mince his words and one thing I can tell you, and I've always said it, is that he is the best trainer in Ireland.

"He is up there with Henry Shefflin, John Gardner and Donal Og Cusack. This man is possessed when he trains. He is a super trainer and a super worker, a good team man and the fact that he put everything he had into the campaign this year means we're getting the fruits of it."

For O'Mullan, Watson's impressive tally was no surprise. "The second goal was brilliant and the first goal we told him to go for, we had already planned that any 21-yard frees he'd go for, we know what he is capable of," he said.

"We were five in front at the time and it would have been easy to tap over a point but when you are that good and you are that close we see no reason not to have a go. The skill he showed for the next goal to bring the ball down was tremendous.

"In the second half they came out all guns blazing, they are a good team and we're not going to dominate for 60 minutes. It's very rare that a team would do that so we're just happy with our performance, we hurled when we had to."

In the football decider, favourites Crossmaglen Rangers had to be content with a draw. They came from five points down to draw level with Westmeath's Garrycastle but failed to convert any of the chances they had in the closing minutes. After the game, Cross' manager Tony McEntee expressed his frustration at how the game finished.

"We missed five chances at the end; all we needed was a small bit of composure. I guess Oisin McConville, Jamie Clarke or Tony Kernan should have had more composure and tipped over a handy score or if such a thing was possible get a handy free," he said.

When asked about the performance of referee Rory Hickey, McEntee was reluctant to comment.

"The game was a fairly hard-fought, but there were no major bad tackles. There was one incident at the start of the match that maybe warranted a red card but other than that everything was fairly innocuous.

"From a discipline point of view there wasn't much for the referee to deal with but we did find it hard to get frees."

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