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Billy Wylie admits he shed some tears after Beann Mhadaghain farewell

By Carl Kennedy

Billy Wylie admits emotion overwhelmed him on Saturday as he brought the curtain down on his reign at Beann Mhadaghain by delivering the 2B title.

It’s a third in a row for Wylie and co, after they departed the Belfast & District as champions, and then won 2C at a canter in their debut campaign in the Amateur League back in 2018/19.

However, there will be no more for Wylie personally who plans to ride off into the sunset on a high, leaving the club in the hands of Damien Cole, who himself ripped up the NAFL record books in guiding the second string to the title with 20 wins from 20.

Read more: Rathfriland future is bright says Ally Wilson as he plots more success

Wylie plans to walk away from the game entirely now, pledging to spend more time with his daughter on the fairways of Cliftonville Golf Course.

But at least he can so knowing he left his mark as the Antrim Road club head into their tilt at 2A and their ultimate ambition of Intermediate football in fine shape.

“I bust out crying at the end of the match, I haven’t cried since fifth year,” laughed Wylie as he reflected on his final game with the club.

“That’s me now, I left the club yesterday, I packed it in.

“The club knew about it, I always wanted to get them into 2A and that is me done, I’m not taking anything to do with any team now.

“I think that’s why I got emotional, I wanted to go out on a high, but that Bangor team, they were brilliant, they clapped us off the pitch and everything.

“There must have been 200 people up watching it, it was packed out.

“There was the usual, a bit of argy-bargy during the match, but after it, they were brilliant, all their supporters clapped us off the pitch and we hung about for a while talking to them, a good bunch of lads.”

One month ago, Beann Mads were hunting a league and cup treble, but defeats in the last four of the Junior Cup and Cochrane Corry Cup, allied to a hammering on the road at St Matthew’s left serious question marks over their quest for silverware.

But looking back, Wylie reckons that was a key moment in their campaign. Faced with a meltdown, his players dusted themselves down and romped to a 6-1 win over Kelvin to kickstart their title challenge.

“That was us sort of getting our groove back,” explained the outgoing Beann Mhadaghain chief.

“Before that, we were beat in both of those semi-finals and the boys’ heads dropped.

“And then we got absolutely murdered by St Matt’s, we played them back-to-back, drew 1-1 up at our place and then they beat us 6-0 up at theirs, I don’t know what happened that day, and that threw it (the title) wide open.

“But it worked out well for us in the end, winning it the way we did, it was a really good day yesterday.

“Bangor have had a brilliant season, and I spoke to their manager after it, but I think we deserved it in the long run, we were brilliant all season, we just had those blips in those semi-finals.”

Piaras Donaghy put the visitors in control in the first half on Saturday, but a Courtney Marsh equaliser after the break set up a frantic finale as Bangor Young Men threw the kitchen sink at it.

And far from bowing out in glory, Wylie admits he was close to throttling a few of his own players as they made his last game excruciating.

“It was mad the last half an hour,” he said.

“When they equalised, that was them on the front foot but we held out, it was brilliant, but it was bedlam too. They are a big tall side, and with corners and free-kicks, they were causing us problems.

“But we had loads of chances to put it to bed, our two up front had literally open nets and missed them…I told them in the bar afterwards that I was going to run onto the pitch and kill them.”

Wylie joined Beann Mhadagain in 2014 and save for a short break two years later, has been with the club for the guts of a decade.

“I think I’ve served my time,” he added on his decision to retire, “but I’ve absolutely loved it.

“And Damien is a great lad, he knows all the boys anyway, he’s an up-and-coming coach, and the boys like him so it’s just a natural progression.”

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