Dolan savours his greatest moment
DESSIE DOLAN lingered on the O'Connor Park pitch long after the Leinster club trophy had been presented to Garrycastle captain John Gaffey, but then special moments should always be savoured.
Dolan had imposed his special brand of excellence on a game which provided Garrycastle with the greatest day in their short history (they were founded in 1981) and, clutching his man-of-the-match award, was happy to share his reflections with supporters and the media.
"It's probably my best sporting moment. I know we (Westmeath) won the Leinster in 2004 but your club is special," he said.
"It's at times like today when you're under pressure that you know from all those years of working together what you must do. It looked bleak near the end but it shows the character we have in this squad when we could come up and get the score to win the game right at the end."
Dolan wasn't looking forward to extra-time, fearing that St Brigid's momentum would have been difficult to withstand but Garrycastle didn't have to worry about it, thanks to Conor Cosgrove's winning point.
As an experienced free-taker, he might have been expected to take the pressure kick but it wasn't on his agenda.
"With my track record? No, it was best left to Conor. He's a left-footer so he just ran over and popped it over the bar. It would have been a hairy moment for everyone if I was kicking it," he said.
Actually, it wouldn't as Dolan was so much in tune with his game that he would probably have slotted it but Cosgrove took responsibility and duly delivered.
Garrycastle will face opposition from just across the Shannon in the All-Ireland semi-final when they take on St Brigid's (Roscommon) in February -- an occasion which will bring several Dolan cousins into opposition.
"The semi-finals will be a great occasion for the family but I don't think the cousins will be all that friendly," said Dessie.
The semi-final will also have a special edge for Garrycastle manager Anthony Cunningham, who steered St Brigid's to a Connacht title in 2006.
"There's going to be some atmosphere for the semi-final. It's great for football in the midlands," he said.
Garrycastle's win means that Cunningham, Galway's newly-appointed hurling manager, faces a hectic period which could extend up to St Patrick's Day.
"It's a lot of work but it just panned out that way.
"This was always going to be my last year (with Garrycastle), irrespective of what happened in Galway.
"We were going for the three-in-a-row and they put a lot of pressure on me to stay on.
"It's a great club -- there's an awful lot going on in the background so it's well set up for the future as well," he said.
As the St Brigid's players watched the cup presentation, they would have been deeply aware that their inertia for 40 minutes was as costly as the late concession of Garrycastle's match-winning free.
"No complaints. The better team won on the day," said joint manager Gerry McEntee.
Any thoughts on the late free which proved crucial? "Ask Syl Doyle about that," he said.