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An Riocht chasing more glory days

By  Shaun Casey

AN Riocht picked up their first ever championship success at senior level with a 2-6 to 0-11 win over Darragh Cross in the Intermediate final.

It was a historic day for the Kingdom and a result that didn’t look likely heading into the last water break. Bernie Ruane’s side trailed 0-11 to 0-5 but late goals from Eoin Sloan and Kory Colgan completed a comeback that will live long in the memory.

Ruane, in his second year with An Riocht, has installed a never say die attitude that paid off on the biggest of days. “It’s not the way we wanted to win it. We wanted to play better on the day, we feel we didn’t perform the way we wanted to” said the Warrenpoint native.

“Nerves and the occasion, Darragh Cross put in a very strong performance. We feel we can play better. There’s belief in the team, that’s what we tried to install in them. Championship football, you play for the full hour and injury time.

“As long as you keep yourself in the game there’s always that chance. That’s what we’ve installed in them, to believe in that.”

Ruane tasted Intermediate Ulster Championship success with his home club back in 2014 and took great pleasure in finally getting An Riocht over the line. “It’s been a target for the club, it’s their first title at senior level. An Riocht over the years would have been in the senior league and they won the senior Division One back in 2007.”

“They have dropped down to #Division Two and they’re an intermediate team. There was probably a bit of a noose around the club’s neck, that they hadn’t won a title at senior level so hopefully that’s the monkey off the backs now. Hopefully we can express ourselves, play our game, that’s all we can hope for.”

They certainly did it the hard way and have faced adversity throughout the season. They lost two of their best players, Declan Morgan and Paul Allen, to season-ending ACL injuries picked up during the league. “We had two injury blows during the year, two of our better players got ACL’s. We actually got two of them in the one league game, to get two in one game I think is a record.”

The Down champions meet Butlersbridge on Saturday afternoon and it’s new territory for both clubs. “Everybody’s looking forward to it, the club as a whole is looking forward to it. Obviously, I’ve won it with Warrenpoint, but it’s the club’s first experience of Ulster, there’s a good buzz about the place.

“I’ve never come across them (Butlersbridge) before and I think it’s their first title too. Both teams are probably in bonus territory, and I suppose the Ulster Championship doesn’t come around too often, so they’ll be all out to try and win.

“Both teams probably don’t know a great deal about each other, I’m sure they know a bit about us, and we know a bit about them, but it’s probably more about your own performance at the weekend.”

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