Fine margins as Dublin champions save time

Manager Andy McEntee credits Paul Durcan with the critical intervention

St Enda’s manager Andy McEntee and Stephen O’Connor celebrate after the game. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

St Enda’s manager Andy McEntee and Stephen O’Connor celebrate after the game. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

In the gathering gloom at O’Connor Park in Tullamore Ballyboden manager Andy McEntee was luxuriating in just having seen his team lift the Leinster trophy instead of being on the line while extra time was in progress.

Portlaoise missed two opportunities, including a close-in free everyone in the ground had surely marked down as the equaliser. McEntee was pleased with the performance but not blind to its defects.

“There’s a lot of things we could do better. We could defend a little bit better. We didn’t maybe spot where we were causing them trouble, as in that long diagonal ball was causing them trouble and I don’t think we did enough of it. We overplayed it a bit in the middle of the field and, in all fairness, only for Paul Durcan we could have been in real trouble.”

Bounced out

“He hit it well enough,” said the Donegal All-Ireland winning goalkeeper, “but I was lucky enough to get a hand to it and I think it bounced out well for us off the post, so we were lucky enough.”

Ballyboden started with a flurry of scores but lost the initiative in the second quarter. Asked had the strong start taken aback even themselves, McEntee said that, no, that had been the plan.

“We had tried to focus on a quick start. You’d have to say that Portlaoise weren’t going to hang back and let us just continue to run through them. They had a very strong spell midway through the first half in particular and when they got the goal you’d say they had all the momentum, but our response to the goal was good ourselves when we came down and got a goal straight away.

“Again, it’s difficult playing good teams. You’re not going to be on top for 30 minutes at a time so you have to try to make the most of it when you are on top and minimise their effectiveness when they’re on top.”

For Portlaoise a third defeat in four finals came in even more heartbreaking circumstances than its predecessors with the normally prolific Paul Cahillane miscuing the free that could have taken the match to extra time.

Manager Malachy McNulty stood in the corridor between the dressing rooms, as the obligatory ‘campeones campeones’ chorus racketed out of the winners’ quarters.

“Devastating,” he said “It’s hard with that going on in the background even to talk about it. . . inches in it.

“And when opportunities like that come and you don’t take them, it’s going to be tit for tat and in the lap of the gods, particularly on a surface like that out there – lads’ legs are getting heavy and it could be a slip, a handle on the ground or as you say, a ball hitting the post or a dirty ball like that.”

He didn’t want to dwell on the late free.

“Just one of those things. We had other chances. Look, sport’s a funny old thing: there’s injustices in it, like life really, but in four or five days’ time it’ll be yesterday’s news and we’ll all try and lick our wounds and move on from this.”

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