THE success of St. Brigid’s GAC club, Cloughmills, in the Intermediate County Championship at the weekend, is a dream come true for the club, manager, Geoffrey Laverty has said.
The one-point winning margin over St. Paul’s at Casement Park on Saturday sparked huge celebrations in the village and beyond as players and management brought back the trophy they lost in the final last year.
Describing the win as “his best ever experience in hurling,” Mr. Laverty was full of praise for a team he said had no doubts they could overcome St. Paul’s despite suffering the loss of two key players - captain John B. McGuckian, Junior, (injury) and Gary McCollum (suspension).
St. Brigid’s had only entered the Intermediate level last season after winning the Junior County title in 2010. Losing in the final by a single goal was a bitter blow, but the club vowed there would be no repeat this time round.
The confidence, commitment and sheer will to win spirit was evident from the outset, Mr. Laverty told the Times.
“I had every confidence in the team. No one was shocked at the outcome. The average age of the players is 23 and we have been with them since they were youngsters. There are some elite lads at the club and the fact that we have such a small squad which means we can only field one team, generates great spirit and enthusiasm,” he said.
St. Brigid’s approached the game in a totally professional manner, taking care to know everything about their opponents and preparing them for what lay ahead.
Mr. Laverty puts it down to having a superb backroom set-up. He was full of praise for coaches, Paddy Martin, Shannon McToal and Selectors Kevin O’Boyle and Davy Martin.
All have been involved with the club for a long time although Mr. Laverty has only been acting as manager for the past three years.
“Everything went right and that was down to all who have a part to play at the club. Our success has given the village a massive buzz and we are delighted that neighbouring clubs, particularly Loughgiel and Dunloy, have really been rooting for us.
“In fact, the well-wishes, texts and messages of support from all of the clubs in North Antrim has been very encouraging. We have the utmost respect for them all and even though we tend to live in the shadow of the likes of Loughgiel and Dunloy, we are shown tremendous respect and suppport,” Mr. Laverty said.
The players and management enjoyed a rousing night’s celebration in the village when they returned on Saturday night, but Mr. Laverty says everyone will be brought down to earth tonight (Tuesday) when they plan the next stage of the journey - an away clash against Castleblaney in the quater finals of the Ulster Championship.
“We have a video of the game which we will analyse and use to our benefit. This journey isn’t over for us and we’ll be doing our utmost to keep going,” Mr. Laverty said.
St. Brigid’s would like to thank all who supported them, the travelling fans and the reception accorded to them on Saturday.
Stephen Smith bagged a goal and two points from open play while Mickey Devlin managed five points. Other scorers were Liam Kearns, three points and James Doherty and Aaron Smylie a point apiece.