Crosserlough ladies, senior champions 2021. Photo: Adrian Donohoe.

Joy and relief as ’Lough are champions again

REACTION: 'Lough win second Senior Championship in three years

Crosserlough captain Shauna Lynch was over-joyed at the final whistle as she led her team to a second Senior Championship triumph in three years.

“Absolutely unbelievable, some buzz, I’m just speechless, lost for words. I’m just so happy. mThe defeat last year was just horrible, we didn’t want to feel like that again,” stated the county defender.

“We didn’t even put in a performance last year I don’t think all year and we knew this year that this what we wanted, from the start of the year this was our goal and we did it.”

Crosserlough were well aware of Lurgan's penchant for grabbing early goals and they were determined to make sure the opposition would not raise a green flag in the first quarter.

“That’s one thing we said during the week in training, Lurgan have been scoring a lot of early goals and we said we wouldn’t concede and early goal. And only for the penalty we didn’t concede any goals.

“The penalty had to come, there was no other way of stopping it, so fair play to Cara as well.”

In common with other teams, Crosserlough's early-season build-up was disjointed due to lockdown restrictions and other commitments but they put in a huge effort once they had access to all their players, she said.

“A lot of girls were away with county camogie and county football so we didn’t get in to train with the club until late in the year, so that added a bit of extra pressure as well.

“We put the head down and we worked hard as well.

“Management, absolutely unreal. Mark came in this year, he got them running from the get-go, they were doing 4ks and 5ks, he spoke with every player, got to know every player and worked really hard.

“And we worked hard for him as well. A special mention to Andy McGovern too, he came in in the last few weeks, his trainings are just unbelievable, outrageous.”

Seventeen-year-old Player of the Match Kate Smith came in for special praise.

“We’re lucky enough like that. Kate got Player of the Match in the junior final last year and same again today and completely deserving. Now, there were a lot of players who put in performances today but thank God Kate got the scores, she is phenomenal for a 17-year-old, you wouldn’t see it anywhere else.”

Captaining a team to this title is the culmination of a life-long ambition, said Shauna.

“It was an absolute dream come true, a pleasure, such an honour for me and my family to lift that cup today. It was a dream of mine since I was a little girl to lift this cup for Crosserlough and I’m just absolutely delighted.”

Winning manager Mark Greaney, meanwhile, was relieved when the final whistle sounded.

“To be honest with you, just relief at this stage. It was a tight game nearly all the way through, we got the penalty at the end that maybe put a bit of daylight between us but it was nip and tuck between us all the way through,” said the Killygarry clubman.

“My heart hasn't stopped racing yet to be honest with you, I'm delighted for this bunch of girls.

“They have put in a massive amount of work this year. They listened, they never complained, they did everything I asked of them – they deserve it, in fairness.

“We have some really classy forwards. In the game plan, we were trying to shut them out for the first 15 minutes, keep them as far away from the goal as possible. In their campaign so far, they have scored an early goal in every single game – they hit Gowna for three in the first four minutes, they hit Killygarry early, they hit us early in the group stage as well so our plan was to keep them out, keep them away from goal. If they had possession, they had possession but we wanted to keep them as far away from goal as we could.”

Crosserlough started relatively slowly but grew into the game and hit their stride in the second half.

“We have been a fairly slow starting team in every championship match so far, we seem to be building into games and we always finish strong, the fourth quarter in games is when we seem to pull away from teams. We build slowly – the second quarter we came out and the third quarter we picked it up a little bit more and we finished strongly in the last quarter, even though we seemed to be down to 14 players for quite a while I thought.

“As I say, the girls worked tremendously hard. With Covid and everything we couldn't train till late April, early May. We put plans of action into place and they all did them, we put team leads into place and they followed up on everybody's progress throughout it.

“I think the girls got their just rewards in fairness.”

About Player of the Match Kate Smith, Greaney said: “She's a class act in fairness to her and she's only going to get better and better, she will get stronger and stronger. She knows where the goals are, she can turn and go for goals straight away. She is an ideal corner-forward for any manager to have.”

Kate herself said: “Feeling delighted, only for the girls I wouldn’t have been able to get what I got so it was all for them. “Practising at training, Andy McGovern helped us and the manager helped me, telling me how to make runs, that all helped. It’s great to win, we worked hard all year and it paid off today.

“Even during lockdown, they gave us work to do and it all paid off today. It showed on us today.”