By Niall Gartland
CREGGAN Kickhams boss Stephen Fawl says they won’t be too far away from taking home the title in this Saturday’s Antrim Intermediate Hurling final (Dunsilly, 5pm)if they play to their potential against Sarsfields.
They fell short in the decider two years ago, not to mention coming out on the losing end of things in the 2018 decider, but those defeats aren’t weighing on their mind ahead of their latest crack at championship silverware.
Creggan qualified for the final with a victory over Cushendun and the man of the match by a country mile was former county captain Conor McCann, who scored 1-10 of their overall tally of 3-11.
He missed the entirety of last season through injury and only returned to action a few weeks ago, and he’s not the only one who made it back fit in time for the championship battle, as their manager Fawl, a native of Strabane in Tyrone, explains.
“Generally we have had a challenging year. Our run in the league was disrupted due to injuries. We have a squad of about 25 people and at one stage we had 14 sidelined with injury. But we always knew when it came to a championship, and having a full selection, we could compete well.
“We’ve had a good campaign, some positive results, and having players back from injury has been a big help.”
This is the second championship meeting against Belfast club Sarsfields this year. They played in the group stages and Sarsfields won that particular encounter en route to topping the group. They have some top players like Niall McKenna as well as Kevin and Caolan McKernan, all three of whom were outstanding in their own semi-final win over Tir na nOg.
It’s a big challenge for Creggan but Fawl is quietly confident they’re going to give it a serious rattle.
“Sarsfields are a great team with a couple of county players like Niall McKenna.
“They have some really dangerous players. We played them in the league and championship and know each other fairly well. I think it’ll be a close game but for us we’re focusing on our own performance and if we play to the best of our ability there won’t be much in it.”
Creggan lost the final in 2021 to Cathaoir an Rí but Fawl, who is assisted by club stalwart Tommy McCann, says that the squad has been refreshed.
“The squad has changed, we have some players who have been there for six or seven years, even some who have been there for a decade or more, but we also have young players coming through in the last 12 months while some other lads have moved on for a variety of reasons. We’re very happy with the squad we have and they’re all looking forward to the final.”