Immediately after the game there was a flurry of activity with consultations between the team managements and board officials as to when the replay would take place and when Clough Ballacolla manager John McEvoy eventually emerged from the dressing room with plans set in motion for the replay he looked a mightily relieved man.
“Emotions in there are hard to describe but having come thought that roller coaster we are now just looking forward to next Saturday. We are just glad to be still in it. Things didn’t go our way for much of the second half, we hit a few wides and I suppose at times took the wrong options but the last few minutes we were just immense and fought back to take the lead and almost win it on the day.”
The finish was astonishing as while they needed a goal (or two) it seemed to win the game with four minutes remaining and five points in arrears Picky Maher just kept pucking over long range points with time running out and surely the manager wanted him to drop some of them short.
“The last one we might have asked him to drop it in as there was very little time left but Picky is intelligent enough to make up his own mind and he sent it over to leave just a puck of a ball in it and then Willie (Dunphy) got a savage goal and just got out of jail and we are delighted to be still in it.”
His side had hit a massive total of 17 wides as well as dropping a number of balls short but McEvoy wasn’t critical of his players for taking shots.
“That is something that you can’t always explain. In fairness you know, fellows stood up to the plate and had a go and if you are not taking the shots then you wont get the scores either. There are some days they will all go between the posts and other days just go off target but you just stay working away and get on with it and hope that they go over the next day.”
Even when his side were five points in arrears with time running out, the Clough Ballacolla manager believed his side could pull it out of the fire.
“Well it looked that way and when you are on the sideline and looking at the scoreboard and you are thinking that time is running out and you need a bit of magic pulled out of the hat. I have been with them the last six weeks or so and seen what they done in the last three games and I knew that it was in them and that they wouldn’t die and that they would produce a bit of magic and they did and they pulled it out of the hat.”
His side have surely eared the tag of the ‘comeback kids’ after their late, late heroics this year and while it was Danny Hanlon who twice did the business in the past it was Willie Dunphy who not only scored one but two blistering goals with the last injury time goal the decisive score of the game.
“They were two savage goals but that is what you expect from Willie. He is good off either side and he came a distance to score both goals and that is the dilemma with Willie as to know where to play him as he could play middle of the field as well. His goals were fantastic and his last was a super finish when needed. I don’t think you will see a better finish at O’Moore Park or at any level.”
The game overall did not live up to expectations and the tempo was not to the standard that one would have thought between two talented hurling teams and the manager agreed that the long wait for the delayed final could have been a contributing factor.
“That is a fair point and both teams could have been affected by the extra time in preparing as no matter how many challenge games you play they are not the same but we felt that we were very fresh coming into the game but yet in the first half we didn’t look that way. You can prepare as well as you can and keep them ticking over and hope that they will peak on the day but you don’t really know until you go out and the ball is thrown in.
“As poorly as we played in the first half we were still only three points down at half time and we just didn’t panic. In the dressing room we said we haven’t hurled well but we are only three down and we are in with a chance and even when we were five down with a few minutes to play we still had that chance and thankfully we took it.”
He and his team now had to change all plans as most players would have pencilled in a few days off after the final but now they will cancel all festivities and focus on the replay next Saturday.
“Well there won’t be time to do an awful lot with them. There will have to be a little bit of recovery time and we spoke in the dressing room and we spoke of a few little things that we want to address. We will look at what mistakes we made today and then look forward, get the heads right and be ready for the replay. I think that their heads are in the right place and they will be ready.”