‘Bridge manager Daragh McCarthy

Ulster’s not a bonus, it’s the next challenge - McCarthy

Damien Donohoe

Butlersbridge are set to make their maiden voyage into the Ulster club intermediate championship when the host An Riocht. Founded in 1981, An Riocht beat Darragh Cross in the Down final 2-6 to 0-11 to win their first ever adult men’s championship.

With five minutes remaining in the Down decider An Riocht trailed by five points. From the bench with two minutes remaining Eoin Sloan found the net, closing the gap to two points. As injury-time rolled on it was clear An Riocht would need a goal and another sub, Kory Colgan raised a second green flag with less than a minute of injury time remaining to steal a most unlikely victory.

For Butlersbridge it was two final quarter points from Fionntain O’Reilly that seen them crowned champions, managed by Daragh McCarthy.

McCarthy who steered Crosserlough to the senior final in 2018 enjoyed the experience of winning with the Bridge.

“It was a great occasion on the day and a great experience for Butlersbridge. It was the first time the club ever won an Intermediate and we let them go and have their fun.

“The usual, a couple of days and went to Dublin and the following weekend they had a night out as well. We waited for two weeks to get them back because you have to enjoy these occasions.”

Butlersbridge v An Riocht

Kingspan Breffni

Saturday, December 4

Throw-in: 3.45pm

With eight days to go to the match when McCarthy spoke to The Anglo-Celt, he reported preparations for the match, which is part of a Cavan V Down club double header, had been going well.

“The lads have come back and they’re hungry. We’re lucky enough we don’t have too many niggles,” he added.

The Bridge were unable to get a challenge match last week, but had better fortune at the weekend.

“Some of the players are involved in college’s football and some are involved with schools football and I suppose as a coach the important thing there, is the player management part of that. Linking in with the players and finding out what their work load is.”

What does he know about his opponents on Saturday?

“I didn’t get up to their final. But I did get to watch it on the streaming. The streaming is great and I’m sure they’re probably appreciative of it too, that you can get to watch games. Like Butlersbridge, it’s their first time ever winning an Intermediate and their first time ever winning a championship at adult football.

“I know they won a senior league in 2007 and possibly have one or two players that are still around from that, so they have experience. They use their squad very well, they bring on lads who can make an impact and I suppose the big thing is their resilience. That final, they never gave up and you have to admire that. They kept at it and they got the result in the end.”

Like Ramor, Butlersbridge will be looking to use the home draw to their advantage but McCarthy explains that they won’t be relying on it to get the win.

“The northern teams have a swagger about them when they come down and I’m sure they’re going to look forward to coming down to Cavan.

“I know Marty Clarke is from that team and I’m sure Marty will give them advice on Breffni Park and its surroundings, having been involved with the under 20s a couple years ago.”

“It is Cavan and we’re expecting a big support, the fact that it’s a double header. That will be an advantage that we’ve good support.”

Is this a continuation of the year or it this bonus territory?

“I’ve racked my brains in the last couple weeks around this. It was great to hear Ray Cole saying that Ramor were getting focused on Ulster because I find in Cavan it’s as if we’re happy with our lot when we win a championship.

“For me as soon as that final whistle went against Ballyhaise I was focused on Ulster. In fact the week before I knew who was playing in the Intermediate final in Down. I just had that in my mindset, so for me Ulster is not a bonus, it’s about the next challenge for this team. I’m not putting pressure on the lads with that but they’re switched on and they’re looking forward to it.”

He continued: “If you look at the lads coming down next week, Kilcoo. Wow, look at them lads year in year out and it’s not a chore for them. Their next focus is Ulster and it doesn’t end for them cause they love playing football and I want that. I want these lads loving to play football.

“Keeping that interest going, that want and hunger to keep playing football (is my goal) cause it’s a hobby at the end of the day.”

Butlersbridge have shown throughout the Cavan championship that they have a free scoring forward line but aren’t reliant on any one or two players. With two clean sheets from their semi-final against Cuchulainns and the final against Ballyhaise another one this weekend should see them progress to the semi-final of Ulster.