London is out of the system. That was the message delivered by Waterford manager John Kiely following Sunday’s three-point win over Leitrim at Fraher Field in the National Football League.
“This was a great win,” he began. “A very important win, vital for the morale of the panel. And they’re a great panel, a group of lads I’m proud to be involved with.”
The defeat in Ruislip stung Kiely and his team badly, a result which clearly remained on his mind in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s victory.
“It was a very emotional couple of days in the build-up to that match. Maurice, Tom and Michael [O’Gorman] had only buried their father a few days prior to us going to London.
“They had a talk about it and they decided to come with us, and we were delighted that they did.
“But we’re a very close-knit bunch and the loss certainly had some effect on us. I don’t think there’s any getting away from that, but we still can’t use that as an excuse for us losing. And we’re not going to.
“It was a little like when Tipperary came here last year a few days after a young lad on their panel [Darrel Darcy] had been killed. Something like that has different effects on players, but it was a very emotional time all the same.
“Now we kicked 20-odd wides on the day and we know there’s no excuse that can be offered for that sort of tally. I guess we’d have to hold our hands up and say we underestimated them a bit.
“But we were determined to get that loss out of our system – look what Antrim did to London since – and I think we did that today.”
Denied many of his best players due to their commitments to the hurling panel, Kiely still continues to work wonders when one considers he’s effectively picking the team with one hand tied behind his back.
“Sure we know the score well on that count by now,” he continued. “In our county, which is a hurling county and there’s no escaping that right now, we’ve a tough job on our hands. But I wouldn’t swap this group of lads for anyone. They’re a pleasure to deal with.”
Added Kiely: “Liam [Ó Lionáin] looked lethal there today. We thought there was a bit of slowness in the Leitrim backs and he took his two goals so well and was a real handful for the few minutes he was on.
“The thigh had been giving him trouble and we had to take him off which was a pity because he was lethal while he was out there.”
The Deise boss was happy that his team remain in promotion contention; somewhat in control of their destiny given that two of their final three opponents are the only teams currently above them.
“We’re back in it now,” he said. “We’ve given ourselves a chance and it’s up to the lads now to make the most of it.
“We’ve got Carlow next week, we’ve got to win that game and if we do, then we go to Markiewicz Park after that and all the pressure will be on Sligo; their palms will be sweaty for that one, I’d say.
“We’ve Antrim then in the last game but there’s no point thinking about that too much right now because of the two games ahead of us now. But we’ll be giving it our best shot.”
Let’s hope it proves good enough for Kiely’s closely-knit group of players.