Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
Last season’s Junior Hurling Champions Cloughmills St Brigid’s bid to make a bit of history on Sunday at Casement Park when they attempt to add the Intermediate title to the trophy cabinet.
Standing in their way is a formidable Lamh Dhearg side that will go into the game as hot favourites, and with good justification considering their lofty league position in Division 2.
The Hannastown men sit in second place behind league winners Ballycastle while Cloughmills are currently in fifth position in Division 3, some twelve positions lower in the overall league standings.
However Cloughmills will relish the underdogs tag and they will be confident that the form they have been showing lately would justify them a much higher placing in the tables.
Assistant manager John McArthur has done a fine job with the ‘Biddies’ since joining the Cloughmills set-up at the start of last season.
The Armoy man who helps run things with his brother-in-law, team manager Geoffrey Laverty, selector Davy Martin and coach Paddy Martin, has really enjoyed his time with the team and feels that the fact he is an outsider has been a big help.
McArthur had been impressed by the commitment of the players over the two seasons and while their surprise defeat in last season’s Ulster final by Monaghan champions Inniskeen was a major disappointment it has not been allowed to derail the team’s progress in 2011.
HOW THEY GOT THERE
In this season’s Intermediate campaign Cloughmills started with a comprehensive win over 2009 Junior champions Rasharkin with an impressive display in Loughgiel.
Division 2 side Glenarm were the next to fall as the ‘Biddies’ again won convincingly, this time in Armoy, while in the semi-final they easily accounted for Divsion 4 side St Teresa’s in Hannastown.
Their forward line has looked really good all year with Liam Kearns, Stephen Smyth and James Doherty (who has postponed his emigration to Australia to play in Sunday’s final) very much to the fore. Kearns was in superb form in the semi-final scoring 3-8 of his team’s total in their win over St Teresa’s.
John B McGuckian has been solid as a rock at full-back while Aaron Smiley has played a captain’s role at centre-half-back.
John McArthur is well aware just how good their opponents are, but you can tell by the way that he speaks about Cloughmills’ approach that victory is certainly achievable. Lamh Dhearg’s two main players Michael and Brendan Herron (two men with a wealth of inter-county experience) will take a lot of holding, but if they can be contained there is no reason why Cloughmills can’t make that little bit of history and add their names to the Intermediate roll of honour.