By Michael McMullan
WHEN the dust settled on Cargin’s hard-fought win over Aghagallon, manager Ronan Devlin felt the glass was half-full.
The champions are preparing for the next step of their title against St Brigid’s on Sunday (Dunsilly, 2pm).
Devlin’s immediate “kneejerk” reaction to his team’s performance didn’t give enough credit to what Aghagallon brought to the table.
“They got to two county finals in a row and they had a county of really big performers for Antrim this year,” Devlin said.
“They were very well setup and have a manager (Pete McGrath) that is known the length and breadth of the country.
“In the aftermath and having scored only nine points, I was probably sore on our boys.”
With a flick back over the video, Devlin was encouraged by Cargin’s creation of a further “14 to 16” chances that were off target or dropped short. Many were scoreable and by key players.
“On another day, if a few of them go over they are walking away talking about a really professional performance,” Devlin said, adding how the missed chances turned the game into a battle.
“What annoyed me was watching it back and hearing the commentary and what people were saying after it about the team being defensive. That was absolute rubbish.”
Devlin feels there are people watching football who are too quick to knock the quality. With a bit more composure on both sides it could’ve been a scoreline in the region of 0-17 to 0-13.
“Then it looks like a really good game,” Devlin offered. “We’re well aware of the areas we need to improve and we definitely need to improve, there is no doubt about that.
“Often, when a team who are favourites for a championship are knocked out, they’ll look back on things that went wrong and missed chances.
“We got that but we are lucky and we are still in there or we’d have been looking back with regrets.”
Devlin didn’t go to watch Sunday’s opponents St Brigid’s in the flesh as they edged out Rossa but knows they’ll be a different animal to the league.
St Brigid’s finished in the bottom half of the table and needed victories to ease any relegation concerns ahead of the championship.
“They didn’t have a full hand in the league,” Devlin said of a side managed by Ballinderry clubmate Paddy McGuckin.
“They had players on the Antrim and Derry panels who both had good years so they were denied their best players for long periods. They are a dangerous side.”
Speaking to Gaelic Life last Friday, Devlin was itching for the game and felt the mood in the Cargin camp was in a good place.
“Once the initial anger at our performance against Aghagallon dissipated we copped on that there is still a championship here to win and we are very keen to win it and very keen to get to a final,” he summed up.
“The mood is good and I am looking forward to it now. I nearly regret it’s not this weekend, I feel ready to go on Sunday.”