Ballyduff manager feels that, perhaps, Causeway’s big game experience stood to them against his more inexperienced side
When the dust had settled on Sunday’s county championship final, and many of his crestfallen players had left the increasingly deserted Ballyduff dressing-room, manager Garry O’Brien was still there. Like everyone in the camp, he had put his heart and soul into trying to bring the Neilus Flynn Cup back in 2022. They had come up just short.
Never the easiest position to be in, when you haven’t even had a chance to gather your thoughts after such a heart-breaking finale, never mind process the ins and outs of the game, O’Brien fronted up and tried his best to explain what had gone wrong for his team over the previous hour and a bit.
“It was disappointing, it was hugely disappointing. I feel like we never got going, or Causeway never allowed us to get going, it was one of the two. Maybe it was nerves, I’m not too sure what it was, I can’t put my finger on it, I will have to watch the video, but I thought that we just never got into a free-flowing game of hurling,” he said.
“It’s a big day, and the lads are very young. If we had gotten it back to a drawn game at any stage, you could have refocused then, but, at that time, we needed to get back into the game. We played sloppy hurling, we didn’t do ourselves justice, that’s basically it.
“We put in a lot of preparation, we came in here today and we thought we were in a good place. It’s a good Causeway team, you’ve got to give them credit, in all fairness, they all work hard for each other. As for regrets, I have no regrets. I’m after putting down a great year with these boys.
“At the start of the year, not many people would have told us that we would get to a county final. We’ve a very young team, we have five under-20s starting today, and if you go through our panel, there are 13 or 14 under-20s. We’ve got a lot of young fellas coming through, and then you have another two fellas coming back next year from long-term injuries.”
With Causeway in their third county final in four seasons, O’Brien admitted that that extra little bit of big-game experience certainly stood to the winners as, of course, did the impetus that they obtained from Colum Harty’s stunning first half goal.
“It was tit-for-tat, and then the goal came, and maybe you could say that we should have pulled him down, but during the game you’re not going to do that. It is what it is now, nothing is going to change now, you can’t rewind back the clock,” he added.
“I think experience stood to them a lot, it definitely stood to them, they weren’t as jittery on the ball as we were. We were jittery on the ball, even our more comfortable ball players, it was a hard-fought game, and we just didn’t perform, basically.
“However, I’m very proud of them, they’re a brilliant bunch. They’re out now Wednesday and Saturday in football, which is a joke, in all fairness. Ballyduff will be back, don’t worry about Ballyduff, I know we lost today but, long-term, it’s in a great place. We’re looking to the future, and that’s all we can do at the moment.”
Garry O’Brien is spot on. Ballyduff’s time will surely come in the not-too-distant future. Maybe they had to lose one before they will win one. If the men from the Cashen can harness Sunday’s pain to drive on again in 2023, they may yet experience the joy of being at the top table again very soon.