Vincent McDermott sustains a heavy hit in the Lory Meagher Cup clash with Sligo. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Vincent McDermott may have had his game end early with a heavy hit to the face and a deep cut to the chin but the smile on his face after Leitrim's hurlers' historic win spoke volumes on Saturday.
Leitrim's 3-15 to 3-8 victory over Sligo propelled the Green & Gold hurlers into a National Final in Croke Park on Saturday, June 10, where they will face Warwickshire.
And for St. Mary's Kiltoghert clubman Vincent McDermott, it was worth the wait - "I don't know how myself and Clement Cunniffe have been, 16, 17, 18 years at this crack and it means everything to us. We played football with St. Mary's and Leitrim some of us but we love playing the hurling and this means everything to us."
Sligo needed just a point to advance to the final but Vincent hailed the resilience and spirit in the Leitrim camp - "Sligo would have been big favourites coming in but we had a great first half and we gave away stupid goals to let Sligo back into it.
"Many a years we would have rolled over, hung the heads and died but this group, there is something about this group, they hang in every match, no matter even when we are beaten, we are never beaten.
"We were never worried but we knew that we had to focus. We've a lot of work done this year and the fittest group of lads we have ever had, they are commited and we knew they weren't going to role over and die, we knew they were never beaten."
Vincent paid special tribute to Leitrim's management team - "Thanks to Martin Cunniffe, Paddy Phelan, Paddy O'Connor, Michael Coleman especially this year, the training he has done with the lads, we owe so much to those lads. It is a joy to playing hurling with Leitrim."
And as for a big day out in Croke Park, Vincent was delighted - "I never could have imagined it and I just can't wait, we're looking forward to it. A big day out."
Vincent McDermott displays the scars of battle after the win over Sligo. Photo by Willie Donnellan