It’s been a long hard road for Eoghan Rua senior hurling manager Pádraig Ó Mianáin over the last few years striving to get to the next level.
A provincial title tantalisingly close on more than one occasion before slipping away.
A couple of years ago in the Junior grade an extra time defeat to Creggan in the Ulster semi-final was hard to take given that the Antrim side went on to provincial and then All-Irealnd glory.
Eoghan Rua stormed to Ulster final glory on Sunday to lift the Junior hurling championship title at Owenbeg with a thumping 3-15 to 0-7 win over Down side Ballela.
Clearly delighted as he surveyed the scene with captain Anton Rafferty holding aloft the trophy Ó Mianáin said it was a big boost for the club as a whole,
“It’s been hard to keep it going. Numbers are small in the club but this will be a great boost to Eoghan Rua from underage up,” he said.
“A lot of that team is our first generation but in the next couple of years the profile will start dipping in the wrong side of 30.
“So it was important for us to lay down a marker today and inspire the young players coming through and keep hurling strong in the club and improve our standing in Derry.
“We need to have players coming through at minor and U21 level to play with the county and build up the numbers to compete at senior level.”
It was not all plain saling in the early stages of the final as Eoghan Rua missed a few chances for goals in the first half as Eoghan Rua still looked a bit rusty.
“You have to factor in that we only started serious hurling training after the senior football championship season was over,” said Ó Mianáin.
“With nine or ten dual players you could not get them out as they were getting ready for the next football game. We’re only really training the last two weeks.
“But we have done a lot of work in recent days to try and get our sharpness and stick work up to scratch.
“I suppose today we were closer to where we want to be. We played very well here last year against Carrickmore and the year before against Creggan and they are playing after us in the Intermediate final. And we said before the game that we needed to get up to that level.
“We managed to achieve that in the first half even though we missed a number of scoring chances.”
“Yeah we had that six point advantage at half time even though they had the wind in the first half,” he said.
“We then got a good start to the second half when we scored 1-4 without reply inside four minutes and that ended it as a contest really.”
There were a number of fine performances right across the park with the experienced Anton Rafferty superb at the back along with Barry and Sean Leo McGoldrick while Ciaran Gaile was deadly accurate from frees, and Colm McGoldrick was a real handful at full forward.
“Yeah Colm is a great hurler, it’s great for him on a big day like this to produce a starring performance, he really was unmarkable out there today,” said Ó Mianáin.
“But look we had a lot of others there today who stood up, all our experienced hurlers who have been hurling for years. The young boys all did great too, Paddy Mullan in goals made a couple of fine saves, Liam McGoldrick, Connor Boyle and Pearse Dallas at the back, the two Ruaris in the middle, Tomas Magee got a great goal and Ciaran Gaile slotted a number of excellent frees, all round I was very pleased with the performance.
“Now we have a bit of silverware and we can look forward to playing the British champions, Fullen Gaels later this month, obviously we know nothing about them but God knows where it will take us,” concluded Pádraig.