The happiest man in O’Moore Park after the thrilling final was captain of Rathdowney Errill Shane Dollard as he beamed with joy after accepting the O’Keefe Cup. It was an historic moment of sorts as he became the first Rathdowney man to do so since the clubs amalgamated.
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Speaking after the game he said that at half-time they knew they had to improve if they were going to win the game.
“This is a great feeling and that was a great second half performance. The boys knew that they didn’t perform in the first half and they didn’t really want to go in at half time to the dressing room and as soon as we got in we wanted to come straight back out because we knew that we were better than that and wanted to get back out and prove it.”
While they didn’t want to go in at half-time, they had plenty of time to think about the first half as Clough Ballacolla left them waiting on the field before re-emerging for the second half.
“They did and they did it the last day as well. We were a bit too eager but sure it gave us a chance to gather our thoughts and focus on what we had to do and we certainly did it. We couldn’t wait to get started again.”
At half time many of the people watching in the stand gave his side little hope of coming back but there was no lack of belief in the Rathdowney Errill ranks.
“We knew that we were good enough to go out and win the game. I suppose it looked like we were panicking a bit when we started going for goals before half time but we just didn’t want to let them go in with too much of a lead and I suppose if we had taken a few points then it would have been closer. We had no fear in the dressing room as these are a savage group of lads and they showed it there today.”
While Clough Ballacolla were on top in the first-half, Dollard was full of praise for the way the defence shut them down after the break.
“If you look at Ballacolla the last day they hit 17 wides. Today in the first half they could do no wrong as everything they hit at the post went over but it is very difficult to replicate that in two halves of a game. We didn’t get that many shots at goal against the wind but then in the second half we closed them down in defence.
“Our backs have been superb all year. Look at the way they performed against Portlaoise and The Harps and today when the chips were down. They are a savage group of players every one of the six of them. We all know about Joe Fitz, Dubhie, the Mahon’s and Alan Delaney but look at Jimmy Corrigan there and the games he has had all year. He has trained so hard in the last few months. The lad has become possessed with the game and just wants to be as good as everybody else and he is and getting better every day.”
Shane has now broken something of a hoodoo by becoming the first Rathdowney man to lift the cup “There has been a lot of talk about that and it is nice to be the man. I was coming home from Limerick the other day and had to call to my boss’ house the far side of Errill and I saw a house with three Errill flags hanging outside of it and I said I am going to put a bit of red in them before the week is out.”
It is now time for celebration but the captain is looking forward as well.
“We don’t want to stop hurling anytime soon we want to go on and hurl all winter long and we would dearly love to have a good run in Leinster.”