By Michael McMullan
PUTTING pride back in the Dungiven jersey is something joint minor captain Eoin Higgins feels their Ulster winning team have made a start on.
Higgins kicked two monster points in the first half of Sunday’s win over Four Masters, but it was a late Pádraig Haran goal that shot them to glory.
“I couldn’t even celebrate I was that tired, but it gave us an unbelievable lift at the time and everyone was going mental,” Higgins said of Dungiven’s magical moment. “There were points in the game when we thought we needed to pull something out of the bag and luckily Pádraig did.”
It has been the hallmark of Dungiven’s run in the championship, something that began on the eve of their county final win over Magherafelt when joint manager Darrell O’Kane dropped a final message into the team’s group chat.
“He was saying the one thing he wanted us to think about from then until the throw-in is that we never stop,” Higgins said.
The squad reminded him of his plea after the game and even had specially commissioned wristbands made with their message etched into them.
“It was wee things like that,” Higgins added. “There were things that went against us, but our thing all year our thing was that we never stop.
“You know when something went wrong, you never stop, you just keep going and we kept ticking away and, in the end, that’s what we did and that’s what got us over the line.”
Higgins was present at Four Masters’ win over Donaghmore in the semi-final and was impressed with what he saw, knowing it was going to take a “big performance” if they were going to take the club’s first title since 1990.
There was also the boost of coming out of the Derry Championship, knowing the Magherafelt team they beat in the decider were a “brilliant team” as well.
“If you get through Derry, you always have a good chance so we used that as a bit of a confidence builder with the amount of Derry teams that have won it over the years,” said Higgins, who pointed to another ingredient in his side’s march to glory.
Hunger is an overused word, but after years of walking out with their heads down after watching the club seniors in defeat it was time to make a change.
“We said this year that we were going to put pride back in the jersey and I think that’s where it came from. Every time you put on the jersey you knew you had to go out and give it everything,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we want to progress to senior and we want to bring success to Dungiven and this is how we thought we were going to start it, so we thought we were going to be the catalysts.
“The excitement this (Ulster minor win) has brought to the club…it was packed there today with the noise. This will give the club a real lift and hopefully in the coming years.
“There is chat about Emmett (McKeever) winning it 1990 and going on to win Ulster senior in 1997, so we are hoping to bring the pride back into the black and white jersey.”