“We’ll be ready for it” - Cassidy

Derry's Oisin McWilliams and Padraig McGrogan celebrate their U20 Championship final success.
Derry's Oisin McWilliams and Padraig McGrogan celebrate their U20 Championship final success.

Declan Cassidy is no stranger to the big occasions may it be Croke Park, Ulster or MacRory finals.

That experience can be vital and it proved to be as the Bellaghy man turned in a man of the match performance.

The attacker took a moment to ponder and drink in the surroundings, reflecting on just how far his career had come. As a child he never could have imagined that his career would have taken the trajectory it has.

“Whenever I was growing up I didn’t think I’d be in Clones two or three years running. I missed my first year of minor with a broken arm so, the hunger was there to get playing on these sorts of days.

“I missed them and I was sitting in the stands, I can’t thank the team enough. It is the team that have put me here today and them points I scored were from passes from other players working hard. We have an unbelievable team spirt and ethic, it’s just a privilege to be part of this team.”

The performances just keep coming from a team that has unshrinkable belief. At times they had to dig in against a stubborn Armagh side buoyed by a siege mentality on the back of appeal after appeal.

“It was a real tough game we got from Armagh they didn’t stop coming at us from start to finish. Midway through the second half we were a point up and then we really started to motor on.

“I think that all came from the Down game being ten points down it was a real good comeback to have in our ranks. It was unbelievable feeling, an unbelievable win and an unbelievable day. “

The Bellaghy man was keen to praise the merits of having real depth in their squad with Brian Cassidy coming on and hitting 2-2 to seal the title.

“Brian was a hurler at the start of the year and came in with us midway through the year but gelled perfectly. Brian is an unbelievable player and he comes from that Slaughtneil clan and they have set serious examples for all the rest of the clubs in Ulster.

“Even from 15 right through to 25 we kept a small panel this year and that was because we wanted more of a unity in the team and that has really shown today. It’s a credit to all the players, managers and backroom team, we just couldn’t have done it without them.”

Attentions now turn towards an All-Ireland Semi-Final with Connacht champions, Mayo lying in wait. Cassidy knows that yet another huge task waits.

“Mayo is going to be a tough test but we’ll sit down and we’ll look at them, analyse their players and how they play. We’ll get ready for the next day and we know it’ll be a stern task but in a few weeks I think we’ll be ready for it.”