Slaughtneil camogie manager Damian McEldowney not looking past Ulster challenge
NWP Ulster senior club final: Slaughtneil Emmett's (Derry) 0-11 Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim) 0-8
THERE seemed to be a certain calmness over Damian McEldowney, the Slaughtneil manager, as he stood in O'Neill Park in Dungannon with his young son in his arms just after his team had seen off the challenge of Loughgiel Shamrocks for the third year in a row to lift the Ulster title.
“I don't know about that now,” he chuckled.
“But I didn't get nervous when it went down to three points with 10 minutes to go.
“We have held out in tighter finishes than that and I know the girls can see out games.
“We probably looked a bit tired coming to the end, but we always find that little bit extra when we need it.
“Every year brings a different response, I suppose.
“Two years ago when we got a draw in the Athletic Grounds and then came with a late goal to beat Loughgiel in the replay in Maghera, it was just relief, joy to finally get something that had seemed impossible just a short time before it.
“Last year we were coming into the final as All-Ireland champions and fell behind early in the game and had to fight our way back. So coming into the last few minutes we had the momentum and won by three points.
“In this final we led from the start and we have learned over the tough games we have played in the last couple of years that we can hold on to leads, that we can soak up pressure and still remain calm enough to do the right things and work our way out of the problem.”
Now however is just too early to be thinking about winning a third successive All-Ireland: “No, that's for a later date.
Today was about beating a really tough team and winning Ulster. The All-Ireland semi-final is three months away.
“Ulster finishes the competition first.
“Now we have a chance to take a look around what is happening in other provinces and plan accordingly.”
The double All-Ireland winning manager was pleased that the players who came in for those missing from last season did a good job.
“It has refreshed the panel no end. Céat (McEldowney), Cliona (Mulholland) and Brídín (McAllister) have all had strong seasons, Orla McNeill, the two subs who came in,” he said,
“We can't rely on the same girls to be there all the time. In camogie there is always going to be a turnover of players and we need a big panel to pick from.”
McEldowney confirmed that Loughgiel had won the toss and chosen to play into the breeze for the first half.
“We were focusing on the first ten minutes of each half. We didn't want to be chasing the game like last year. When they chose to play against the wind it was important not to give them a foothold in the game.
“Five points in front at half time doesn't sound much, but the beginning of the second half became a key period and we coped well during that spell.”