CUSHENDALL – Delargy reacts to championship draw

NEW Cushendall manager Brian Delargy has outlined his ambition for the Ruairi  Óg senior hurlers in 2021.

Delargy is a former player, and a former minor coach to many of the current senior players, and takes over the role from Eamon Gillan. This is a job that Delargy has long desired, but he said that he’s not planning to make wholesale changes to the way the team plays. Instead, he wants something else.

“We have a lot of experienced players there like Paddy McGill, Neil McManus and Arron Graffin.

“I hurled with those boys so I know their strengths and weaknesses. The other group coming through, Paddy Burke and Odhran Campbell and lads like that, they are the main group within the team. You want to get the best out of them. I wouldn’t want to say I want to change their style. I just want to get the best hurling out of them.”

The draw for the championship was made recently and Cushendall are in a group along with the champions Dunloy,  St John’s and  Tír na nÓg.

Delargy said: “I knew we weren’t going to be seeded because we didn’t make the semi-finals. We knew we could be drawn against any of the top teams.

“Getting drawn against Dunloy, St John’s and Tír na nÓg – one thing it will do is that it will focus the minds. If they didn’t know it was going to be tough then they will know now.”

However, their hopes of getting started on the training for those games are on hold  due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced restrictions on all GAA action. The team is working in isolation while the manager tries to wait patiently until he can get out and train his team properly.

Delargy said: “We were really keen at the start  when we were installed, and we were itching to get going  but then we were closed down.

“We find that aside from the hurling side of things, boys miss the social side of things.

“We have given out running programmes at the start of December and to be fair the boys have knuckled down. They are doing their own work. I just link in with them now and again as a management and see how they are getting on.

“We hope that when we get back out to training that they will buy into everything we want to do. But they are mad keen at the moment and they have great enthusiasm.”

Delargy played for Cushendall up until he was 28 when had to retire before his time.

He moved into the coaching side of things, and worked along with Terence McNaughton and James McNaughton with the Cushendall minors.

That gave him a taste of what coaching could be like, and provided an outlet away as his playing career was over.

Delargy has a lot of credit for Terence McNaughton and James McNaughton, for the opportunity that they gave him.

“You learn a lot working with men like that. That was a very good minor team and a lot of them are in the seniors now.”

Delargy also managed a Cushendall u-21 team with Karl McKeegan and Odhran Scullion, who are part of the his current management team. So he is used to success.

He helped to coach Derry when John McEvoy was managing the Oak Leafers with Johnny McGurk.

When Gillan stood down as Cushendall manager last season, Delargy felt the time was right.

“I put my name forward as I felt that I was ready for it. It was always the plan to manage the club. I feel it is the right time. When the opportunity came a few people asked me would I go for it, and I said yeah.

“I didn’t have to think about it for too long. The only considerations I had was that I had to ask my wife, and I was also starting a new business. So I had to think of that.”

But there was very little deliberation needed, and Delargy quickly agreed to take on the job.

His experience should stand him in good stead. The most recent role with  Derry taught him a number of things.

“It is different when you are managing boys who are not from your own club.

“You have to learn different ways to speak to them. You are working with elite players, the best in Derry.

“You can’t talk about things like passion and love of their club.

“I really enjoyed it up in Derry. They are great hurlers. Even the county board was great. Anything we we wanted we got. There were no issues. I really enjoyed that two years. It made me grow as a coach and as a manager.”

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