Championship title win would be ‘massive boost for the club' says Cullyhanna's Pearse Casey

​Cormac Leonard Armagh IFC Final. Sunday October 22 (2pm). At The BOX-It Athletic Grounds: St Patrick’s Cullyhanna v St Paul’s
Cullyhanna’s Pearse Casey breaks clear of Pearse Og’s Paul Duffy during the Intermediate Championship Semi-final.Cullyhanna’s Pearse Casey breaks clear of Pearse Og’s Paul Duffy during the Intermediate Championship Semi-final.
Cullyhanna’s Pearse Casey breaks clear of Pearse Og’s Paul Duffy during the Intermediate Championship Semi-final.

St Patrick’s Cullyhanna are out in search of a first Intermediate Championship title win in 15 years when they take on St Paul’s, and their captain Pearse Casey described what winning on Sunday would mean for morale around the club.

"It would be brilliant for the club,” he said.

“We have a relatively young squad, bar about five or six players, and for them to see us hopefully getting a Championship win is a big step and it will push them on.

“For the club itself, it would be a massive boost. Our last win was in 2008, so it’s a massive weekend for the club, the players, and the management.”

Cullyhanna had been red hot in their opening four encounters as they breezed past Belleek, Middletown, Tullysaran and Derrynoose with a average winning margin of 14 points per game.

However, they were given a stern test in the semi-final, where they overcame Pearse Ogs 1-15 to 1-10, and Casey believes having a difficult game in the bank will be of benefit to them.

“In the early stages of the Championship, you can only play what's in front of you, and we knew going into the semi-final with Pearse Ogs was going to be a massive test for us, which it was.

“We knew the calibre of player they had and the experience they had. But from that respect, it was a great game to get, because it was a tight encounter, and I'm hoping that will stand to us.

“They had a period of maybe 10 or 15 minutes where they did put us under considerable pressure, but we dealt with it and we can take massive learnings from that.”

Having been relegated down from Senior last year, the south Armagh men – who have inter-county trio Aidan Nugent, Jason Duffy and Ross McQuillan all in form heading into this weekend – have been labelled as Championship favourites from the outset.

However, Casey says that the team don’t pay any attention to that.

“We're on the road now 12 months with this campaign, and ultimately we have focused on ourselves, and our ourselves alone from the offset,” he said. “We don't read into a 'favourites' tag or whoever is saying that on the internet or in the papers, we just apply ourselves as best as we can in training and listen to our managers and coaches.”

​Sunday’s opponents St Paul’s have one of the best full forwards in Ulster in Andrew Murnin – who netted a hat trick against Keady in the semi-final – and were beaten finalists in 2020 and 2022.

Consequently, Cullyhanna are aware of the challenge that lays ahead, against the men from Lurgan.

"St Paul’s are a very good team who are very well set-up,” said Casey. “They have been knocking on the door of winning the Intermediate Championship for the last few years, and they were very unlucky against Shane O’Neill’s last year. They’ll have an extra edge because of that, so we know that it is going to be a very tough game.

“It’s going to be tight from the start and if we can keep it as such going into the last 15 minutes, we’ll be happy.”

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