Clean sheets key to Cullyhanna success says Nugent

By Shaun Casey

CULLYHANNA have yet to concede a goal since winning the Armagh Intermediate Championship back in October. In their four games since then, the St Patrick’s men have kept four consecutive clean sheets.

Goalkeeper James Carragher pulled off a stunning save in the Ulster final to deny Ballyhaise a goal, while the fingertips of Mickey Murray denied Allenwood a goal chance in last Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Cullyhanna sharpshooter Aidan Nugent credits the defensive structure that the management team have put in place as well as the ability of the defenders that Stephen Reel’s men have at their disposal.

“I can’t take any credit for that at all,” said Nugent, who has contributed 0-20 for Cullyhanna in the last four games. “I think that’s down to management, obviously the players take credit for it but we’re setting up in a certain way and management have given us a template to play.

“Everyone is buying into it, and we’ve had different lads come in at different stages and they’re just fitting into the system, they’re not trying to stand out. We have everyone singing off the one hymn sheet and trying to play the same way.

“Yes, we have a system of play, but we also have tight, sticky corner backs that take pride in their defending, and you can see it in training if you’re marking the likes of Mickey (Murray) or ‘Ogie’ (Sean Óg Irwin), you’d be lucky to get a point or two off them.

“They’re like demons and they’re not happy (conceding scores) and that’s a good way to be. That’s the competitive streak you need to win and if those boys are playing the way they’re training then that’s what breeds success.”

Cullyhanna only have eight days to prepare for the upcoming All-Ireland final and Nugent believes the short turnaround will be a good thing for the south Armagh men.

“Sometimes the build up can be mad and you can be dragged from pillar to post. We know we can stay in our tight wee group and recover hard and just prep as best we can for Sunday.

“We’re not going to get any fitter this week so it’s just about staying fresh and doing whatever we have to do individually to try and get ready for training and getting ready to go again.

“It’s a quick turnaround but it’s good because sometimes when it’s two week’s you’re caught in between training hard and recovering . So we’ve a few days left to get ready but we’re well on the road to getting back into shape.

“It’s trying to balance things because you could go and try to block the build up out and ignore everything, but we realise what’s going on and how big it is for the club, we’re mature enough not to get carried away.

“But we’re old enough now to realise that these are special days for the club, and you can’t blank it out and say it’s only a game. It’s a big game but we also know what we have to do to win.”

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