Eoghan Ruadh skipper can’t wait for county final day

By Niall Gartland

THIS is what it all comes down to for Eoghan Ruadh – the chance of one-upping their biggest rivals Éire Óg, Carrickmore in the Tyrone Senior Championship final.

Their young captain Lorcan Devlin, still only 23 years old, simply cannot wait to lead his side out into battle on Saturday afternoon, and the chance to prove themselves as the leading hurling team in the county.

Éire Ógs are reigning champions, but they’re up there to be knocked down and Devlin is embracing the big-match nerves as the clock ticks down to the big day at O’Neill’s Healy Park.

“The atmosphere is class at the final. Eoghan Ruadh and Éire Óg are just two great hurling clubs, and there’s so much pride in trying to be the best.

“We’re just trying to match each other, and it all comes out on the day. There’s a good buzz in the week leading up to the game, and it’s something we’re really looking forward to.

“It’s important not to play the occasion, and that’s something we’ll speak about, but even the younger lads are used to these big games as they’ve played in Ulster finals.”

Eoghan Ruadh will feel they have a massive point to prove after the way last year’s final unfolded. Their three in-a-row bid was unceremoniously derailed by a tigerish Carrickmore side, and they were left fighting a losing battle after a woeful start to the game, conceding three goals in the first-half.

It was a disappointing result, but if they make amends this weekend, it will be their third senior title in four years.

“I think we are a bit hungrier than we were last year” said Devlin. “We don’t have the Cup so we’re fighting to get it back. The final played on my mind even over the Christmas period when we weren’t playing at all.

“I remember the game was played entirely on Carrickmore’s terms. They set the tone of the game and we fell into their trap.

This year we’re hoping that won’t happen and we play the game on our terms. They got a great start and conditions were brutal as well, it was just one of those days.”

While he’s still only a youngster, albeit one who already has a vast amount of experience playing for club and county, Devlin weighs his captaincy lightly, saying he tries to lead from the front regardless.

“I was captain of underage teams at u-16 and minor level. It’s a great honour captaining the senior team but it’s something I’m used to. Even if I wasn’t captain I’d still be one of the loudest ones, you’ll probably hear me on Saturday as I’m loud!

“It kinda comes naturally to me, at school and work I like taking control of things, making sure everyone knows what they’re doing, and if they need a hand that they know who to come to.”

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