Jackie Agnew receives the Man of the Match award from Barry Cullen in 2012. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
“We’re in a transitional period, but one thing you can guarantee is that most us know what it takes in the knockout stages.”
Jackie Agnew was once referred to as half of ‘the terrible twins’ couplet. Himself and Niall Conlon have been almost inseparable since childhood. However, he may have a new title for himself, and one of his own choosing this time.
When his pre-championship forecast was put to him by The Democrat, he chuckled, saying ‘call me Mystic Jackie’, he said. But did he actually conceive that a championship challenge was possible considering their poor start to the campaign?
“Yes and no,” he said.
“I was saying this to Paddy not too long ago. We had a rough enough start to the league where lads maybe weren’t at 100% commitment after being relegated and it was hard to get everyone together.
“But you could see in the last couple of games in the league that we were hitting championship form and that progressed into the championship.
“We knew we were going to do ok in the championship and people could say that we maybe got lucky with the group, but the Togher game was by no means an easy game.
“People probably didn’t calculate that we were only down from senior so we were used to that level of football, especially compared to the this level. That’s just Louth football for you.
“Take the Sean O’Mahony’s, they could have won an Intermediate All-Ireland and the following year people just expected them to reach a quarter-final of the senior at best. But they reached a final and people were still doubting them the following year and the went on to win it.
“Teams build like that and it goes against the perceptions that people have sometimes.
“We were in very poor form at the start of the year, but we came good at the right time and now everyone is jumping on board and we have more swimmers than ever.
“We’re not asking for credit, that’s not what we’re in it for, but we just want to have that belief in ourselves that we can rectify what went wrong last year,” Agnew added.
However, one thing Agnew concedes it that the tables have turned since 2012 in the sense that the Clans hold ‘the bridesmaids’ tag which haunted the O’Connell’s season-after-season. It was what eventually drove them to glory, the source of their determination.
“In 2012, we had the bridesmaids tag pushing us because we kept being told that we just couldn’t take that extra step.
“It’s the same with the Clans. They have all been there before and been written off. They’re the hot red favourites, but it’s more than likely going to be a game of 20 vs 20 and whoever is that bit hungrier will win it on the day.
“Hand on heart, there are not enough championship finals in any players’ career and it’s about trying to make them count.
“This is my third chance. I came on in 2006 and hit the post shortly afterwards and I had a point to prove to myself in 2012 after that.
“I had to better that and I ended up going on to be the Man of the Match. This year the motivation is different in the group, the senior lads have something (a championship medal) and the younger lads want it.
“And I can guarantee you will see an O’Connell’s team leaving everything on the field for the first 30 minutes, regrouping at half-time and going again. This won’t be an easy game for the Clans,” Agnew said with defiance.