Connaire Mackin Interview

Intermediate Championship Final Preview

One point was all Shane O’Neill’s had to spare in their semi final victory over Wolfe Tones two weeks ago and now they are just one game away from capturing the clubs first ever Intermediate title, and they would accept the same winning margin this Sunday evening to get over the line.

They face a different prospect in the final however with favourites Grange boasting one of the most talented forward lines in the county. For Shane O’Neill’s to withstand any chance they will need their main performers to shine on the biggest day and Connaire Mackin is certainly a player they will look to.

Having not had huge success in recent years, Shane O’Neill’s are enjoying the excitement of the championship, “We’d the big breakfast and all on Sunday, which was good crack and there’s bunting in round the village and everyone you see is talking about it. There’s good togetherness there in the club at the minute and that’s what it takes some times”.

The Camlough men struggled during the league and finished just above the relegation zone in Division 1A but Mackin explains how a few returnees have improved the side for the championship, “We had a few boys away to America, probably three of our stronger players were away for the summer. They missed seven or eight games during the league, more than half of it, so them coming back was a good help, they added to the numbers in training and got boys more up for it”.

With Grange’s star-studded forward line and Shane O’Neill’s mixed form during the season, Mackin knows his side will be the underdogs come Sunday, “Finals are a different cattle of fish altogether and anything can happen in a final. I suppose we’re probably deservingly underdogs, we haven’t had a great run up but a few lucky spells against St Paul’s and again last week against Wolfe Tones. We didn’t really play well against Wolfe Tones and we’re going in deservingly underdogs”.

Having already played Grange once in this seasons championship, in the group stages, the two teams are no strangers to each other and Mackin appreciates the talent within their ranks, “We know a bit about each other but with all the televised games there is on Armagh TV, anyone can see the games and see the strong points. They’re a very strong team and they beat us by two points deservingly down in Shane’s so it’ll be a tough game definitely and we’ll be up against it”.

While having the comfort of watching the Grange vs Clan na Gael semi final after they were already through to the final, Mackin wasn’t quite sure who he would prefer to meet as that game rolled into addition time, “It was weird, I didn’t know who we were cheering for in the end, and I didn’t know who I wanted to win”.

“When it comes to the quarter or the semi final stages, the knock out stages, you’re going to have to beat whatever is in front of you anyway so it didn’t really matter (who they met). Both of the teams would have been tough but I think Grange have a lot more firepower up front, that’s why they pulled through in the end”.