BY NOEL HORGAN
THE distinction of captaining Randal Óg to their historic triumph in Páirc Uí Rinn last Saturday fell to Seamus Crowley, who described it as the best day in his playing career to date.
He is very hopeful there are bigger things ahead for the club, however, pointing to the fact that the team is liberally sprinkled with players between 18 and 20 years of age.
‘I’m 21 now, but, believe it or not, I’m one of the more experienced players on the team,’ Crowley revealed.
‘This is just my fourth year involved at junior level, and it’s a tremendous honour to captain the team, but today is not about the player who lifts the cup. It’s about the entire squad, the management, the club officials and everyone who has worked behind the scenes over the years to make it possible,’ Crowley stated, adding that quite a number of the players had a hugely demanding schedule during the past 12 months.
‘I think some of the boys have been going 18 weekends in a row due to their involvement at junior and underage level in hurling and football. It’s extremely tough on the bodies physically, but today’s win was a reward for all the hard work we’ve put in over the year and it’s massive for the club,’ enthused the team skipper.
Crowley said he expected a tough battle from Goleen, and that he knew they’d come back into it after Randal Óg got off to a whirlwind start.
‘We’re always wary of Goleen, we know what they’re capable of, having built up a healthy rivalry with them over the years,’ Crowley said.
‘We beat them in the divisional final this year, but they had beaten us in the first round of that competition, so we were fully aware this was going to be a tough test.
‘Even after we started well and got a goal early on, we were prepared for a Goleen comeback, and they certainly put us under pressure towards the end of the first half.’
Crowley believes Randal Óg still remained confident at half time, although he felt the Goleen goal early in the second half definitely unsettled the Ballinacarriga side.
‘It took us a while to get back into the groove after that, but it’s a measure of the team that we raised our performance when the need was greatest to get the job done,’ he said.
The triumphant captain agreed the goal from the penalty came at the right time for Randal Óg, boosting confidence and morale enormously at a critical stage of the contest.
‘After we got the penalty, we more or less took over, we were able to keep the ball, pass it about with confidence, and I thought we controlled the game in the last quarter. I suppose you might say we’d have been in big trouble only for getting our second goal, but Goleen got their goal from a penalty when they were also chasing the game, and overall I thought it was a fair result to a good contest,’ Crowley remarked.
Looking to the future, he’s satisfied the potential is there for the team to make an impact at a higher level.
‘As I’ve said, we’ve a very young squad, and we can’t wait to see if we’re capable of pushing on and moving up the grades,’ Crowley insisted.
‘I’m convinced we have what it takes to achieve more success in the seasons ahead, but it’s imperative that steps are taken to try and keep the whole thing together from now on.
‘Managing the work-load between hurling and football and trying to avoid burn-out is going to be a challenge in itself, but hopefully we’ll be able to handle it,’ said Crowley, who played a leading role in last Saturday’s success, rarely putting a foot astray at full back over the hour.