BY KIERAN LYNCH
ERIN’S OWN, Cargin have made their way through to the Ulster Senior Football Club Championship semi-final on the back of three dramatic wins in a row, and they will be hoping to win out in less sensational circumstances when they face Glen this weekend.
Having notched a last-minute winner against Creggan in Antrim semi-final, came back from down by eight versus Aghagallon in the county final, and having scored a goal in the dying seconds of additional time to take Naomh Conaill into extra-time, before winning on penalties – Cargin have done it the hard way to reach this point.
“I suppose you can look at it two ways,” reflected defender Kevin O’Boyle on their form.
“We need to stop letting other teams get out in front of us, but it shows the unbelievable character that we have, in terms of our never-say-die attitude, which is something that I think we have got ingrained in us – we don’t know when we’re beaten.
“However, you can’t afford at this level to give these quality teams big leads, and force that fight upon ourselves. It’s amazing what we have done; but there are positives and negatives with it.”
Their penalty shoot-out win over Naomh Conaill was Cargin’s first win in Ulster since 1999, with plenty of near misses in recent years, and O’Boyle hopes that winning at this level becomes the norm.
“We knew that we needed to get a win in Ulster, because there was outside noise,” he conceded.
“We had been so close on so many occasions, and we always got the hard luck stories, but it was up to us to change that.
“I’m glad it’s put to bed and hopefully that sets the precedent now for years to come.”
With Cargin finding success on the provincial scene, O’Boyle believes that competing – and winning – at this level can only benefit the club in the future.
“We have the right blend between young and old,” he said.
“We have a good age profile in the team in terms of experience, then we have all the young guys coming through in the past couple of years, and we’re exposing those young players to high standards of football, and to training at this time of the year, which can only be good.
“We had Cahir Donnelly, who stepped up as an 18-year-old corner-back to score a penalty in the shoot-out; Benen Kelly came on; Eunan Quinn had a great point against Naomh Conaill; these are all lads who are 18 or 19.”
If Cargin are to progress to the Ulster final, it won’t be easy. Awaiting them in the semi-final is Glen, who are one of the favourites for not only the provincial title, but the All-Ireland crown.
However, O’Boyle believes that if Cargin want to be the best, they have to beat the best.
“Probably every game from here on in we will go in as an underdog, but we’re totally confident of our ability to compete at this level,” he said.
“We know that they are quality teams, and if you give them any lead, or make any mistakes, they will punish you for them.
“But it’s a special competition; it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s heavy pitches, it’s everything that you shouldn’t enjoy, but you love it. The Ulster Club Championship is unreal. These games are the reason why you train.
“If you want to be the best you have to put yourself against the best, and Glen are certainly up there at the minute.”