'We'll be ready for Dunloy final showdown' - Cushendall's Eoghan Campbell
EOGHAN Campbell has declared Cushendall will be mentally ready for Sunday’s county final showdown with Dunloy despite the dramatic high of last weekend’s semi-final replay win over St John’s.
Just like last year, the Ruairi Ogs finally got over the line after two epic games against the Johnnies – but Campbell says they won’t be bathing in their semi-final victory.
St John’s led by four points at the break and had a one-man advantage, but defending champions Cushendall tore into the west Belfast men in the second half to win by four.
“Some days you’re complaining that the games don’t come quick enough,” said Campbell as Cushendall prepare for their 11th county final appearance in 12 seasons.
“We’ll go to the sea now and we’ll do our recovery tonight and tomorrow night. It’s about trying to be as fresh as possible and trying to get our heads right.
“It’s a very big high to come back down from. Mentally, we have to prepare but it’s something we’re used to now. We’re used to playing in finals, we want to be in finals and no doubt we’ll be ready for next week’s game.”
At half-time, it looked as though St John’s would finally get the better of their north Antrim rivals but two quick-fire goals from Alex Delargy and Fergus McCambridge soon after the restart left the Johnnies reeling.
And in the closing stages, Cushendall outscored their opponents 0-5 to 0-1 with Neil McManus and Paddy McGill nailing important scores.
“Going down a man is never good, especially against a team like St John’s that move about a lot,” Campbell said. “We’ve been in these situations before. Against Ballycastle [in the 2015 county final] we were eight down but we knew we could come back.
“We knew as a group that we didn’t perform as we wanted to in the first half against St John's; we didn’t stick to the gameplan but in the second half we just upped our work-rate. That’s all it was – pressing and hooking and not letting them get the room they got in the first half.
“We always knew at half-time if we get an early goal and keep taking our points we’d be there or thereabouts.”
St John’s haven’t reached a senior county final since 1994 and after Sunday’s replay defeat the prospect seems as far away as ever.
“It maybe plays on some people’s minds,” Campbell added.
“St John’s have taken us to replays but haven’t been able to get over the line. Personally, St John’s are a good enough team to beat anyone on their day. They move the ball about well and they’ve big forwards, nippy forwards but I think we just concentrated on ourselves, and what we needed to do.
"In the second half the last day we worried about St John’s but in this game we worried about ourselves. We got the ball to Neil [McManus], ‘Del’ [Alex Delargy] and [Paddy] McGill and they did the job."
Cushendall will be hoping to avenge their 2017 county final loss to the Cuchullain's in Ballycastle next weekend.