THE 2022 season will live long in the memory for Loughgiel Shamrocks, and much of their success can be attributed to camogie manager Benny Dillon who ended the club’s losing Ulster final streak against Sleacht Néill. Dillon came in to take charge at the start of the season and he had one key phrase – “work-rate.”
That was evident throughout their run to the All-Ireland final as they harried every opponent until that final whistle sounded.
Dillon surrounded himself with good people, namely Conor Higgins, Mark ‘Duck’ McFadden and Orla McIntyre, and that provincial success was just reward for their efforts over the 2022 season.
When they defeated Sleacht Néill in the 2015 decider, little did they know that it would take another seven years before they got their hands on the silverware again.
“I felt we wouldn’t be beaten for effort,” Dillon said after the 2-13 to 1-11 win over the Derry outfit.
The fog fell in Kinnegad for the All-Ireland semi-final against Drom and Inch but when the gauntlet was thrown down, Dillon’s charges took it.
They had trailed by two points at the break, but their intensity and determination shone through in the second half as they won by a goal. It wasn’t just work-rate though with Dillon finding a way to get the best of his star players like Lucia McNaughton, Caitrin Dobbin and Roisin McCormick, and it didn’t faze them one bit that they were being written off ahead of the Croke Park final with Sarsfields.
With the weather again less than ideal, they responded well to the concession of an early goal before eventually losing by a goal in front of a massive traveling support.
Some Sarsfields players described it as the best of the three they have won in recent years. It was simple, they knew they were in a fight against Dillon’s side. That fight continues in 2023.