Not long after a rousing acceptance speech and a unique rendition of “Dessies winning matches”, a delighted captain and man of the match Darren Duignan admitted that Gortletteragh’s victory was a long time in coming.
“Absolutely delighted, this has been a long time coming,” said Darren when asked to put into words his reaction at lifting the Frank Reynolds Cup, “In my lifetime, we’ve lost two Seniors and an Intermediate last year so it is absolutely relief and I’m delighted to have won this here today.”
For a team that was always tipped to return to the Seniors ranks after their relegation in 2006, Darren is quick to acknowledge that it has been a hard slog for Gortletteragh to regain their long cherished Senior status – “It always is when you go down to Intermediate. People do expect you to come straight back up but once you got down there, it is very hard to get back up.
“The first couple of years, we thought we were going to sail back up but far from it and we had to work hard. We learned from the experience of last year when we did get to the final and we were very disappointed to lose that last year and I think that stood to us today because we weren’t going to let it go today.”
And that experience of last year ensured that Gortletteragh would take nothing for granted according to their captain - “We knew it was going to be a tough game today, Dromahair came through their group and won all their games and we were nearly caught out against Glenfarne when we drew in the semi-final and we beat them in the replay.
“We knew we were going to be up against it today and it was going to literally be a point game and that is what is was. We just got the luck of the break, we got the goal today and we’re just delighted.”
Asked if he rememberedm much about his vital match winning goal midway through the second half, Darren joked “It will be a long time before I forget it” before turning serious and adding “Instinct takes over, you don’t get too many of them chances.
“I’ve been playing a long time and you have to make the most of those chances and I’m just delighted it fell for me today”
And the Man of the Match award? “Delighted, great day, a great day all round” was Darren’s reply.
And Darren believes that the future is looking bright for Gortletteragh – “As I said in the speech, it’s been a long time coming and we’re going to celebrate this well. We have Minors in the Final, Junior As in the final and hopefully, they will follow on from us today.
“For a change, it is looking good for the club and hopefully, we can drive it on when we get into Senior and you never know what might happen.”