Emerging from a near silent dressing room after Sunday’s SFC final defeat, Arles-Kilcruise manager Jim Maguire was left to reflect on yet another cruel missed chance for the club.
Contesting their third final in four years, all three have ended in the bitter disappointment of defeat, and the much coveted second title still eludes them.
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As he reflected on the seven point defeat, Maguire felt that the early concession of a goal had left his team in a very difficult position for the remainder of the game. “We were neck-and-neck at that stage, we were both competing and it was going either way.
“The goal, I wouldn’t say it set us back, but we were three points down. It didn’t really change the way we were playing, we were holding well at that stage, but to start clawing points back at that stage was going to make things very difficult for us. I wouldn’t say that it knocked us back, but for us to go on and get the scores to match that was always going to be difficult.”
Falling behind against Portlaoise always leaves teams in a difficult position, because when they try to claw back the difference, it leaves them open to Portlaoise’s strong running, attacking style, which Maguire admitted that Portlaoise really put his side under the cosh. “They’re fit, they’re mobile and they’re strong, and they were well able to filter back when they needed to as well, they smothered us when they needed to smother us and they put us under a lot of pressure as well.”
This defeat is the latest in a series of crushing blows for Arles-Kilcruise, and Maguire was retaining hope that the rewards would eventually come for the team. “It’s year in, year out, and as it stands we’re the second best team in Laois. You would have loved for those lads, for the effort that has gone in, if they could have gotten one or two other championships, but unfortunately for them there is no championship.
“They are an unbelievable club, and while they are down now, they will always come back, and they’ll come fighting back next year and put in a huge effort again, and hopefully they reward will come through at some stage, but Portlaoise are an unbelievable side and it’s very difficult to see who is going to beat them over the next few years, but we have to keep trying.
“Even if we had won today, we would have expected to get a reasonable run in Leinster because Arles are a good side. Portlaoise are looking at winning Leinsters and All-Irelands and I think that’s the difference at the minute.”