O'Leary laments horror show
"A HORROR show!" Noel O'Leary's withering assessment of Dr Crokes' defeat to Ballymun Kickhams in the All-Ireland Club Semi-Final in Thurles last Saturday.
"We left no stone unturned in advance, but we just didn't get a rub of the green on the day. We had too much bad passing, bad movement, bad ideas, look it was just a horror show. Fair play to Ballymun they deserved their win, but we'll do everything we can to try and get back here next year," he said after the match.
The Crokes co-manager took out most of his frustration on referee Marty Duffy, however.
"I think the GAA have to wake up a small bit. They are making rules, but this referee today did not comply with them. I saw play held up for one player tying his lace; I thought that rule was gone! Ballymun were the better team on the day, but the GAA have to have a look at things like this," O'Leary said.
He also questioned how Ballymun defender Philly McMahon stayed on the pitch following a number of incidents particularly the incident, which led to the awarding of the second-half penalty for the Killarney side.
"No fella wants to see a fella sent off, but ref it properly anyway. If you're going to ref it ref it clear, he saw it, I didn't see it," he said.
O'Leary also said that the result of the other semi-final between St Brigid's and Crossmaglen beforehand had no bearing on how his side performed.
"No, we paid no attention to it, I was aware of the result myself, but all we wanted to do was focus on our own business. At least both ourselves and Crossmaglen can take part in the St Patrick's Day parades now," he said with a wry smile.
O'Leary pointed to how long it took the club to win a county title in trying to rally hopes for next year, but didn't feel that the team were suffering from a post Christmas hangover in any way.
"It's the same story every year (the break between Christmas and the semi-finals), but we prepared well for this today. We thought we really learned from that challenge game against Cavan, but it just didn't work for us today," he told The Kerryman.
His nephew and team captain Kieran O'Leary admitted utter disappointment with the performance on the day.
"We're devastated obviously, Ballymun missed a lot today, but we didn't do ourselves justice. We've no excuses, we could go down the road of saying the break between here and Christmas affected us but we could offer a thousand other things as well if we did that," the Crokes captain said.
He admitted that Ambrose O'Donovan's early withdrawal through injury was a factor in the team's poor showing.
"Ambrose is as devastated as anyone in the dressing room with what happened, he would have loved to have played a full part today and he was such a big character for us in getting this far but unfortunately it was not to be," O'Leary said.
Going back to the drawing board will not be easy for the Killarney side O'Leary admitted, but still believes it can be done.
"We really want to right the wrongs that were out there today. It's a long road back to here, but other teams have shown in the past that it can be done."
Kerry will be his more immediate priority on the first weekend in March but, the Crokes will hope that it all starts again for them on when the Club and County Championship kick into gear.