By Shaun Casey
IN his first season in charge of Liatroim, Colm Murphy got the Down club back on top in the Mourne County and led his side to an Ulster last Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Conor McCrickard and PJ Davidson made all the difference in the end as Liatroim powered past Middletown with six points to spare to earn their first ever provincial title, at their fourth time of asking.
“I’m delighted, I can’t put into words what it means,” said manager Murphy after the game. “A wee club like Liatroim who have never won an Ulster Championship, I’ve won Ulster Championships myself and I know what it feels like. You can only ever win for the first time once and that will never be reciprocated.
“It’s just something special, winning your first championship, especially when it’s Ulster so fair play to the boys, they put their shoulder to the wheel over the last two or three months, from last February. They’ve been on the road since the 4th of February, it’s fantastic for them.”
The goals were crucial in Liatroim getting over the line, although Murphy admits his side were never comfortably ahead. Middletown fought hard for a three-pointer of their own, but the Liatroim defence stood strong and resisted all of Middletown’s chances.
“You saw the size of them (Middletown), when they started firing the long balls in, thank God there was six points in it in the end and not three,” added Murphy. “I know some of the supporters were saying they were having heart attacks, they’re just physically massive.
“But I thought over the 60 minutes, I was hoping that our legs and our hurling would get us through it, and I think it proved right. Our game plan worked to a tee; we had certain things mapped out.
“PJ (Davidson) played a thankless task up there at full-forward on his own, just to occupy three defenders and he did it so we can’t complain there.”
One player was singled out for high praise by the manager, Ruairi McCrickard, who was heroic in his defensive endeavours and also landed two long-range frees throughout the course of the game.
McCrickard epitomised what was good about the Liatroim performance, and it all comes down to one standout quality. Hard work.
“Ruairi was the best player on the pitch by a mile. He’s just a colossus of a man, he missed a whole season there will a shoulder injury so his hunger and desire to get back and win it for his parish and with the name McCrickard, he just wanted it so much.
“Every one of them played their part. We based our team around work-rate, you can never control how well or how badly you play, but you can control your work-rate. We saw that out there today. If they had of had GPS’s on their numbers would have been phenomenal.”