Lámh Dhearg focus remains on chasing championship glory

By Michael McMullan

LÁMH Dhearg captain Terry McCrudden admits that while their form is inconsistent the goal is the same as every year – getting their hands back on the McNamee Cup.

McCrudden, who played in their 2017 final win over St John’s, feels their “tough” group that included Portglenone, Naomh Éanna and Ahoghill has been a help.

“You want to be playing competitive matches,” he said. “In my opinion, you don’t want to be playing teams you’ll beat by 10 points.

“It was three competitive games. In my opinion, we were a bit inconsistent in terms of form.

“We beat Ahoghill away, we beat Portglenone in Cargin which was a good win and we probably scraped a draw against Naomh Éanna to top the group.”

Their championship season came after a league campaign that saw them finish in third spot after an indifferent start. A narrow win over Cargin was their only points from the first five games.

“We had boys injured; some weren’t back from the county,” McCrudden added.

“Pearse Fitzsimons has come back from Australia which is a big boost for us.

“We had a lot of players missing but it was a good opportunity for the younger players to get valuable game time in Division One which will stand them in good stead.

“I feel we are getting a lot of our players back and getting into a bit of a groove.”

After the experienced trio of Paddy Cunningham, Conor Murray and John Finucane, 31-year-old McCrudden is on the upper echelon of the squad’s core of players from the 25 to 30 years of age bracket.

“It is a good balance,” McCrudden added, speaking ahead of Friday’s (Dunsilly 7pm) quarter-final with last year’s intermediate champions Dunloy.

Before a ball was kicked this year, the Lámh Dhearg plan was the same as every other year – remain competitive in the top flight of the league and push to add a fourth county title.

McCrudden speaks of the St Gall’s dominance in Antrim being followed by a spell when Lámh Dhearg were never far away. They lost the 2019 decider to Cargin after extra-time after being edged out in similar fashion 12 months earlier.

“We got over the line in 2017 and it’s the goal every year and I believe the team is good enough to do it…you don’t really settle for anything else,” McCrudden outlined.

“We have won a couple of leagues and they are great to play in but everybody remembers who wins the championships.”

Their immediate challenge is a Dunloy team McCrudden has a lot of respect for and was in Croke Park cheering on on All-Ireland final day earlier this year.

“It’s a great club when you see what they are doing in hurling at the minute and they have a lot of dual players,” he said.

“We have the dual aspect too so we know about that. It is a great opportunity for them to be playing in the senior championship and we are looking forward to it.”

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