JUBILIANT Celbridge manager Noel McMahon, who lined out at centre-forward when the club won their breakthrough title in 2005 with victory over Coill Dubh, is targeting provincial success for his troops after watching his side win a fourth Kildare SHC title in five years last Sunday.
“To be honest I think there is at least a Leinster intermediate title in this team and I think they know it themselves,” admitted McMahon, who this year guided the county U-21s to Leinster ‘A’ glory, as well as the All Ireland ‘B’ final.
“The object is now to push on and try and win that. We got to the final two years in a row (2010 and ’11) – we got well beaten once but should have beaten Mount Leinster Rangers here a couple of years back. But that is the way it goes, so hopefully we can fight out and get another crack at it.”
Speaking after his side’s 0-23 to 2-11 win over Eire Og/Corrachoill, McMahon also explained that the disappointment of losing last year’s final to Confey drove his players to success this year.
“At the start of the year this was the object and all the lads rowed in behind us because they probably felt there was unfinished business from last year, that maybe they left it behind them.
“I think the determination that they showed this year, even after going behind when conceding those two goals in the space of a couple of minutes despite doing all the hurling, the character of team showed out brilliantly…Fair play to the lads, 23 points is fair scoring in any match.
“Eire Og got here by scoring goals and getting two in quick succession was a huge boost for them; once they had something to fight for they were never going to give it away easily. But we got some terrific scores; the way we worked the ball for those scores was brilliant. That is the character and skill that is in this team.”
Meanwhile, McMahon’s opposite number, Eire Og boss Stuart Gleeson admitted that he was personally gutted following his side’s defeat in the Donore outfit’s first SHC final in 14 years.
“I think nerves got the better of some of the younger lads on the day but not wanting to take anything away from Celbridge, they are a fantastic team,” said Gleeson. “They have six very good forwards who can score from all over the field. They have two great midfielders but as I said, it is a credit to them for what they have done – they are a great team.
“When we got the two goals we had them under a bit of pressure. But it just goes to show you the quality of a team Celbridge are – they stuck to their guns. The goal at the start of the year was to reach a county semi-final and/or a final, which we reached. We have younger lads coming on and hopefully we can retain the services of Deccie (O’Toole) and Joe (Dempsey) to help settle them down again.