GAA Football

Loughinisland driving towards Intermediate Football final

Loughinisland's Conor Megoran (right) celebrates with Seán Cochrane after beating Bundoran in the Ulster Club IFC final
Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

CONOR MEGORAN is already living the dream for many young boys - driving a digger in his 'work'.

Working for his father helps too and even the cold weather doesn't bother the 23-year-old too much: "I'm in the digger, I have the heated seats and all on, so it's not so bad."

Now, he wants to make a 'play' dream come true by winning an All-Ireland with his club Loughinisland. The next obstacle in his way is Mayo side Hollymount-Carramore, in this Sunday's intermediate football semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Although Megoran agrees with the outside perception that 'the Island' should be a senior side, he insists club members were still "ecstatic" at winning the Ulster second tier title.

"The club's buzzing. We had a real poor year [in 2014] getting relegated from Division One, we hardly won a match, but two new men came in, Jerome [Johnston] and Paul Duffin and they're brilliant. They changed a lot of moods, brought a lot of players on," he said.

"The whole club is ecstatic, there's an unbelievable feeling around the club about how far we've got."

Their revival didn't extend to achieving promotion back to Down's top division, and full-forward Megoran admits that was a disappointment: "That's where everybody thinks we should be," he added. 

"It was a wee bit unfortunate that we didn't go up, there was one match in the league where we let it slip, then we had a play-off match against Longstone and let that slip too. Yet, there's no doubt that we'd definitely be up there, I reckon, among the top five or six teams on our day. A lot of boys are disappointed that we didn't get back up."

The Blues will be in the Down senior championship this year, by virtue of their intermediate success over An Ríocht, although their immediate focus is on the All-Ireland intermediate series.

County finalists in 2008 and '09, Megoran was only a 16-year-old panellist in the latter, but still around from those deciders are Dan Gordon, Conor O'Toole, Séamus O'Hare, John McCarthy, Matt Doran and Ryan Stranney. The blend of that experience with some fresh faces brought in by former Down selector Johnston and Duffin - who led St Gall's to the 2007 Ulster Club SFC final - stood Loughinisland in good stead in the provincial series.

They beat some good clubs along the way - Greenlough of Derry, Tyrone champs Edendork, Monaghan's Doohamlet and Donegal's Reált na Mara in the Ulster decider.

"We didn't really know much about any of those teams," admits Megoran, "but they were champions of Derry, Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal, and they were all nitty-gritty matches. It was a different standard than we'd played before, so it was good to get through them all."

Loughinsland managed just five scores in that final, but four of them happened to be goals, helping them to a 4-1 to 0-7 victory. However, there was a good - or bad -  reason why they went more than 40 minutes without scoring, until three goals in the last 10 minutes took them to an astonishing victory, recalls Megoran: "It wasn't a good spectacle at all - but the breeze we were playing against in the first-half was ridiculous.

"When you were kicking against the wind, it was coming right back down your throat again… Then it died down and seemed to suit them. They were terrible conditions to be playing in."

Hollymount-Carramore will be hoping for their own 'Hollywood' story, although their star players the Coens, Stephen and Darren, are cousins rather than brothers. The former skippered Mayo minors to the All-Ireland title in 2013, beating Tyrone in the final, and was on their senior panel last year, while Darren has lined out at full-forward for Mayo in the past.

Megoran would love to make inter-county level himself but, for now, more club success is ambition enough for him: "I've never been anywhere near the county teams. It would be an absolute dream to play for Down, something I've always wanted to do, but it's just getting there," he added.

"I'd be happy enough if we get this one dream sorted out - that would be another dream for another day."

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