The cheers of success rang around the Athletic Grounds on Sunday evening as the Collegeland team danced with their trophy minutes after the final whistle. The group photos took centre stage, as Damien Jordan stepped back into the crowds shadow and let the players savour their new found success.
Jordan had been their leader from the sideline and expressed how his team had achieved their year-long goal, “We started training for this on the 6th of January, its 39 weeks and we basically set out our stall from day one, the type of game that we wanted to play, the type of football that we wanted to get these boys playing”.
Although he admitted his side were the underdogs heading into the contest, Jordan confidently expressed his belief in Collegeland while paying tribute to their opponents, “We knew Derrynoose were favourites, but in a county final, it’s on the day. People can talk about different things but it comes down to who wants it the most. They (Derrynoose) put a massive effort into that game today, they were absolutely brilliant”.
“It came down to some tackles, we won certain tackles at certain points in the game and came up to score points while they were coming down the field and losing tackles, it was a 50/50 game and it just worked out for us on the day. Derrynoose, they’re a very good football team and I have no doubt that that team is more than capable of winning a Junior Championship, today was our day and that’s the bottom line, we’re absolutely delighted”.
From a coaching perspective, the Collegeland manager was thrilled with his sides work ethic and tackle count, with 1-9 of their 1-12 coming from turnovers “It was about fine tuning certain things, even from our league campaign we were fine tuning a certain way we wanted to play. We knew the fitness was there and we knew they could tackle”.
“We do tackling grids every night at training, every single night we’re tackling and tackling and constantly working on that. If you can turn the ball over a certain amount of times during a game, there’s a good chance you’re going to win it, so we’ve been working on that all year, you can ask anybody in this squad, the amount of times in training sessions that we have worked on tackling and we’re lucky enough it’s paid off today”.
Jordan praised the balance that consists within his squad and how the blend of youth and experience brought about their championship success, “there’s a certain amount of young fellas that are playing and on the squad, there’s also a good few older fellas as well that give the team the right sort of balance that you need, especially to win county finals”.
While the attention will eventually turn to the Ulster Club Championship, Jordan and his men won’t worry about that for another few days, “We set out a goal at the start of the year to win a championship, we’re happy that we’ve achieved that and if we can get a wee run going (in the Ulster Championship) and keep playing that sort of football I think we’ll be hard to beat but it’s an unknown”.
I “think we play the Antrim champions, I’m not familiar with them, I haven’t watched them, we were fully concentrated on getting this county final played and see how it went after that, we’re more than happy to be in an Ulster Club first round and we’ll give it a good go. We didn’t think about Ulster Clubs, it was never mentioned, it’s not that we banned any sort of talk about it or anything”.
“This was our goal and we wanted to achieve our goal before we started talking about anything else. We’ll be ready; whenever the match comes along we’ll be ready. We will take a couple of nights and celebrate because this is a massive achievement for this club, winning a county Junior title is a massive achievement and we need a couple of days now to get that out of the system and we’ll be fully prepared and ready for them (Antrim Champions) whenever it comes round”.