Loughgiel bid to reach final

LAST one out of Loughgiel this Saturday turn out the lights please!

The local village is set to again move en masse southwards this weekend when the Shamrocks hurlers bid to retain their All-Ireland club title.

Standing in their way in the AIB GAA Club Championship semi-final are St Thomas’s of Galway.

The venue is Parnell Park in Dublin with a 4pm start this Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday the other semi-final will take place between Thurles Sarsfields and Kilcormac-Killoughey. Both games are being screened on TG4.

Loughgiel manager PJ O’Mullan junior desperately wants to retain the all-Ireland crown so critics can’t say the 2012 victory was a flash-in-the-pan.

He said: “We want to be known as the best team in Ireland. In order to maybe be the greatest team in Ireland, you need to win back-to-back titles. Very few clubs have done that.”

And with that in mind he has been liaising with the footballers of the Crossmaglen club who have regularly captured the club title in their code of the GAA.

Said O’Mullan: “Crossmaglen are a fine example to us and I keep in contact with their management. They’ve been good to us. They’ve spoken to us and given us advice.”

But aside from the advice from south Armagh O’Mullan says in their own assistant manager, Jim Nelson, they have good backing of their own.

Added O’Mullan: “We’ve the best coach in Ireland in Jim. If he was in Kilkenny, he’d be winning All-Irelands. So the players are there and the management is there. I keep saying this, but he’s the best coach I have ever seen. I’m only talking from a GAA background, he’s just a top class coach, a top class man and if I could learn even a tenth of what he is teaching me, it’s a privilege. His coaching is down to a tee.

“For us to achieve greatness is to win the All-Ireland two years in a row. But we’ve a tough semi-final ahead of us. We’re expecting a really tough battle.”

O’Mullan insists Loughgiel are more about just the 15 starting names on the team-sheet.

He added: “We carry a squad of 30 and sometimes people in the squad can get agitated. They are looking game time. Believe it or not, it is the boys from 16-30, they are the main men in the squad for the boys from 1-15 to be as good as they are. Without them, the team wouldn’t be as successful as it is.”