Ballygunner boss Denis Walsh didn’t have it all his own way on the GAA front last weekend, as he explained in the wake of his side’s SHC title victory at Walsh Park on Sunday last.
“I’m also been coaching St Catherine’s in the camogie in Cork yesterday and Milford beat us and they beat us well – in fairness if we played them again next week they’d probably beat us by more, it wasn’t a one that got away or anything like that.
“I’ve had them in two county finals but the galling thing is that next year we’ll still be a couple of goals short of Milford and so will the other teams unless something dramatic happens so after yesterday, so after yesterday I didn’t want a different type of unique double on from winning the All-Irelands with Cork so this is great!”
Saluting his Ballygunner side, Walsh said his team had retained their hunger levels and seen off the best the rest of the county could throw at them this year.
“A lot happened within the group during the year, it was an emotional time for a whole load of reasons but they dug it out well. Tallow, in fairness to them, had a very good game plan, were very disciplined and kept it going right to the end.
“Our fellas just had to step it up a little bit during the second half, and we did that for 10 minutes in the middle of the half and that was the difference between the teams, as we got three or four points during that period and I feel that proved the difference between the teams. But credit to Tallow, they’ve had a great year and while they’ll be disappointed, they should be very proud of the year they’ve produced, with young players like Ryan Grey emerging so well. They played very well but this is our day – these lads still have great hunger.”
Admitting that “we totally malfunctioned in the 10 minutes before half-time,” Denis Walsh felt the Gunners lost their way, missing a free which would have sent them five clear, only to concede four points without reply.
“We had to keep doing the basics of the game, finding people, working the ball up along the pitch; the lads knew what they had to do and we improved greatly during the second half. All the lads you’d look to for leadership – Barry Coughlan, Philip (Mahony) and Shane (O’Sullivan) – they were outstanding, while some of our younger players including Peter Hogan, who’s still a minor, he was terrific as well and Shane Walsh, after having a bit of trouble during the week, he settled into the game really well.”
Tallow manager Terence McSweeney explained some of the difficulties in co-ordinating the training schedule for a panel so widely spread across a few counties and cited their “huge dedication” to reach a second final in five seasons.
“People mightn’t realise it but most of our panel don’t live in Tallow,” he said following his side’s four-point reversal.
“They’re either living and working in Cork or Waterford city and we have a good number of guys who are in third level as well. But they never complained about the travel or the commitment, and to get to where we did took a huge amount of sacrifice.”
McSweeney added: “Ballygunner obviously had their homework done on us, but we played to the end and I’m proud of what we have achieved this year.”