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Cush driving O'Donovan Rossa to heady heights

 

Key man: Emmet McGuckin is an experienced asset
Key man: Emmet McGuckin is an experienced asset
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Almost 20 years have elapsed since Adrian Cush brought the curtain down on his inter-county career with Tyrone.

Two Ulster championship medals and being part of the squad that reached the 1995 All-Ireland final could be said to be scant reward for a player who was regarded as a cultured forward - but the Donaghmore clubman has certainly not been harbouring regrets.

Instead, he has been patiently building up an impressive coaching portfolio that has proved a significant factor in projecting him into the limelight again.

For many years, Cush has been at the hub of coaching in Donaghmore and only became involved with O'Donovan Rossa when a Donaghmore player who had gone to live in Magherafelt prevailed upon him to throw his lot in with them.

It's a decision he has never regretted. Now 49 but still imbued with the zest of a teenager, Cush has steered the Magherafelt outfit into Sunday's Derry Senior Football Championship final in which they will meet Glen, another surprise packet, at Owenbeg.

It had initially been expected that Eoghan Rua, Coleraine - who won the title last year - and Slaughtneil would be joint favourites to lift the crown this time round but a series of surprise results completely transformed the Oak Leaf landscape and now football fever is once more sweeping the county.

Cush has welded together a side that is a blend of seasoned players and youthful starlets who substantiate the glowing belief that the club could be destined for a period of success.

Emmet McGuckin, Danny Heavron, Simon McErlain and Shane Heavron represent the experienced core of the side while players such as Conor Kearns, Conor McCluskey and Cormac Murphy hold the key to the future.

While he has watched the club's senior string blossom to date this year, Cush has simultaneously maintained a watching brief on the progress of his reserve string and the U21 team.

"I take great encouragement from the fact that we reached the reserve final and won the Under 21 title," states Cush.

"I think this says a lot about the club. But when you look at Glen and see the success they have had at under-age level over recent years, you can have nothing but respect for them."

While Cush accepts that the future of the O'Donovan Rossa club could be considered bright, he stresses that his team will be under pressure to produce the goods this weekend.

Though Glen have never won the title, O'Donovan Rossa have to go back 40 years for their last triumph.

"We will be judged on the here and now and that means we will be assessed on what happens on Sunday," he adds.

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