Football

Cargin must look in the mirror ahead of St Brigid's semi: Kevin O'Boyle

Kevin O'Boyle kept a close watch on Aghagallon's Adam Loughran during Sunday's Antrim SFC quarter-final clash. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Kevin O'Boyle kept a close watch on Aghagallon's Adam Loughran during Sunday's Antrim SFC quarter-final clash. Picture by Seamus Loughran Kevin O'Boyle kept a close watch on Aghagallon's Adam Loughran during Sunday's Antrim SFC quarter-final clash. Picture by Seamus Loughran

COUNTY kingpins Cargin will have to do “a lot of looking in the mirror” ahead of their Antrim championship semi-final date with St Brigid’s, according to stalwart Kevin O’Boyle.

In a repeat match-up from last year’s county decider, the Toome men needed an added time winner from young sub Tom Shivers to get over the line against Aghagallon – even though they had lost star forward Ruairi McCann to a red card in the 43rd minute.

Boss Ronan Devlin couldn’t hide his frustration at Cargin’s performance in the aftermath, insisting “it wasn’t good enough… we are so much better than that”.

  • 'It wasn't good enough... we are so much better than that': Boss Ronan Devlin fumes as Cargin progress

And, after emerging from the changing room, O’Boyle admitted the Erin’s Own were lucky their defence of the Padraig McNamee Cup was still alive.

“The feeling was we got out of jail massively,” he said.

“If Aghagallon were actually on their game today, they maybe underperformed as well… any other team that was on their game today, we would’ve been out. That’s the reality of it.

“From position one to 15 and it took Conhuir Johnston, an 18-year-old, to drive us in the first half, and Tom Shivers – only making his breakthrough into the team - to come on and hit the winner.

“We relied on our bench massively, but a lot of looking in the mirror has to be done. Basics even… work-rate, energy, handling, decision-making, all those type of things that are crucial at championship time, and which we pride ourselves on, weren’t good enough today.

“We’ve been very good this last couple of years at managing scenarios, managing games, and to an extent we did manage it in the second half and we got through, but we definitely could have been beat.”

Having coasted through Group A, winning their three games by an average margin of 10 points, O’Boyle believes Sunday was a “wake-up call” as they struggled to find any kind of momentum in Hannahstown.

“Sometimes you’re made think you’re better than you are and you have to go back and have a reality check.

“A lot of that was self-inflicted, how we performed today, and it’s no bad thing. We were very good in the group stages but sometimes a wee rattle up the backside does no harm.

“It’s a good sign as well that you come through games like that, where you play poorly and still come out on the right end of the result. That’s a positive, that we got the result and we’re into the semi-final.

“But we have to go back to the drawing board, and it’s no bad thing. It’s a wake-up call for ourselves. We don’t take any team for granted, Aghagallon put us to the pin of our collar last year, but you have to be on your game every game.

“If you slack off at any time, you’re vulnerable. We know we’re good enough in terms of our personnel, management, our squad – our reserves won the championship last week – but you have to go out and apply it on the day.

“Today we didn’t do it and we’ll aim to right those wrongs in the semi-final.”

From a personal perspective, however, O’Boyle could reflect on a job well done after successfully curtailing the influence of dynamic Aghagallon and Antrim forward Adam Loughran.

“It’s not about individuals, it’s about the collective,” said the 35-year-old.

“Adam’s an unbelievable player but as a corner-back you thrive on duels, that was my task today. There’s so many aspects of my game I would like to improve upon, and I’m definitely going to training to drive the standards and hopefully the rest of the boys drive them with me.”