Cathal McKenna will be remembered for years, as the hero who gifted Grange their first Intermediate title in 26 years and done so while breaking the hearts of Shane O’Neill’s in the same swinging action, who will feel aggrieved with the added time play, “I knew it was close (to the last kick), I didn’t think he was going to play an extra play because he said there was only three minutes left and there was five minutes gone”.
McKenna made no mistake in coolly slotting the ball straight over the crossbar and ran away in hysteria before the ball had even landed; such was his confidence in his strike. The corner forward displayed a nonchalant figure as he struck the ball and felt no strain with the kick whatsoever, “I actually didn’t feel any pressure, it was a normal kick”.
“I’ve been practising them all week, Justy (Kieran) is our normal free taker and he was actually injured all week in training and didn’t kick a ball so I had to practise. I kicked 15 out of 15 on Friday night so it was just a normal kick and I didn’t feel any pressure to be honest”.
While McKenna didn’t feel the pressure surrounding the kick, there was pure consternation after the ball had sailed over, with McKenna again involved in the final play, “The kick out actually came to me and I caught it and the way the boy came in behind me he punched it out of my hand and the referee blew the whistle”.
The Grange showcased tremendous character and spirit, coming back from four points down at the half time break to edge ahead by one at the final whistle, just as they had done in their semi final victory over Clan an Gael two weeks previous, “These boys fight to the end, we’re all dogs”.
The Grange experienced an uneven league campaign, when they finished 3rd in Division 2B, and McKenna described how his side turned the tide for the championship, “We didn’t have a great league campaign; we got beat by Blackwater in the Grange which was a hard pill to swallow. We have a meeting that Tuesday night and there was names called and boys were called out and everyone stood up to the plate and said they’d put their body on the line”.
“We’d championship to prepare for and six weeks to do it and in every game we were fighting to the end. The game’s 60 minutes for a reason and it’s hard to beat a team that don’t quit, so we got that mentality into our heads that we fight to the end. I think that sums up the Grange, we’re a championship team, we can always pull something out of the bag, and we’ll fight to the end no matter who we’re playing”.
While a lot of the pre-match build up focused on the stars in the Grange attack, and how Shane O’Neill’s would deal with them, McKenna paid tribute to the defensive side of their game and how the backs brought the forwards on while also praising the impact of the younger players along with the men on the bench.
“In training our defence is keeping us scoreless some times in 20 minutes, we can’t get a score and then people are talking about our forward but the defence probably don’t get enough credit that they deserve”.
“I know we conceded a lot during the league and probably played too open at times, so that’s what we tried to work on we tried to filter and get boys in position then to try and break teams on the counter. We’ve good young talented players like Ben (Toal) and Justy and then you’ve the likes of Brendan Rafferty coming off the bench and that’s the one thing about the Grange we’ve plenty of players to come in and do a job.”
While the St Colmcille’s men will celebrate their triumph but their attention will soon turn to the first round of the Ulster Club Championship where they have been drawn against the Tyrone Intermediate champions Galbally on Saturday 19th of October.