Southern Gaels players and cousins Caoimhe Teahan and Rachel Dwyer have huge sympathy for the way Finuge/St Senans lost a classic final
Southern Gaels manager Dan Fitzpatrick was insistent after the game that the final shouldn’t have finished with a free kick shoot-out. Whilst delighted for his own side, he said that he really felt for Finuge/St Senans and the manner of their defeat.
“There’s no way that this competition should have finished the way it finished today,” he said. “It has been a massive advertisement for the game and was a great battle with 80 minutes of football and then and then a shoot-out. I feel sorry for Finuge/St Senans as much as I’m delighted for us. I said to the girls Friday night, ‘I don’t care if we win this game in the 61st minute’ but I didn’t think we’d be talking about the 80th minute. I’m delighted because we were dead and buried with four minutes to go in normal time, four points down.
“I personally thought that we were out, one hundred per cent I thought we were gone, but I don’t know where they got the resilience from and for Rachel to kick that equalising point. Siofra with the coolness for the penalty and then Rachel to come along and slot that (free). She’s giving out that she missed the first one in the shootout but like I said if she missed one in the 66th minute they’d be no shoot-out!”
Southern Gaels had played Finuge/St Senans in the round robin stage of the competition back in early September and that day they had it fairly handy with a 13-point win, 3-12 to 0-8. Fitzpatrick said that he never expected the final to go the same way, especially as Finuge/St Senans were down some key players that first day.
“It was at home for us number one, and they came down without Louise (Galvin) and they were missing Rebecca Horgan, and there was one other girl missing as well. They were missing three of their starting fifteen and you see how well Louise Galvin played today, she adds an awful lot. And when they played us that day Niamh Carmody was playing at midfield, but she’s a totally different operator when she’s playing on the ‘forty’.
How big a loss is Anna Galvin who transferred to Dublin club Na Fianna this year? Fitzpatrick said that it’s huge but that other players have stepped up to the plate.
“Anna was a massive loss. She’s played well for Kerry all year and captained them. She’s a massive loss to us,” he said. “On the flip side of that we had Siofra back in to us who we missed last year, and then a couple of the girls are getting more experience and getting older, the likes of Shonagh (Fitzpatrick), Aoife (Dwyer), Deirdre (Kelly), Ellie (O’Connell). I think that this is their fourth or fifth county final playing in and they’re still only 18, so these girls are getting more experience.”
With Southern Gaels down to play the winners of the Cork champions Mourneabbey or Waterford champions Ballymacarbery on the weekend of October 22-23, Fitzpatrick insisted that his side will give it as good a shot as they possibly can.
“Where do we stand? Cork and Waterford are probably the two strongholds of (club) football in Munster but we’ll enjoy tonight, and we will get back on the wagon again, but I guarantee you we’ll have a right cut off it and we’ll see where we are. We won’t go into it thinking that we don’t have a chance of winning the game and we’ll give it our best shot and we’ll see where it leads us after that.”
And how proud was Fitzpatrick that it was his daughter Shonagh that put over the winning free kick?
“Whoever slots it, slots it, they’re all my own girls in one sense but it’s nice when it’s from your own house. But I don’t care who got it once it was kicked over the bar for us to win the game, that’s all that matters,” said the victorious manager with a hearty laugh.
Southern Gaels players Caoimhe Teahan and Rachel Dwyer had major roles to play in their side’s victory with Teahan captaining the side from centre half back and Dwyer starring at full forward. The first cousins were delighted with the win but were sympathetic to the way that Finuge/St Senans lost the game.
“I’m hugely proud,” said captain Teahan. “It was such a tough game out there and it sure wasn’t easy because Finuge/St Senans were so good, and they battled so hard and gave us a great game. It’s been the toughest game we’ve had all season and the girls really came out trumps there and I’m so proud of them.
“We never dropped the heads, that’s one thing that we always believed in ourselves and we knew that we had it in us even when it was close there and we just finished it out in the end. We knew that we could do it.”
Meanwhile, sharpshooter Rachel said that she was delighted that her equalising score gave the team a boost for the extra-time but she felt that the way the game ended was really tough on Finuge/St Senans.
“I was delighted just to be able to do that for the team and to be able to get that score and it gave us a lift after. We had no momentum with us for a while there and we just needed that pick up and I was delighted to be able to do that for us.
“It’s a desperate way for them to lose the game though. Anyone could score or miss those frees on any given day so it’s a really really tough way to end after a battle like that out on the pitch. It’s just an awful way to finish it. You really feel for them especially with the way both teams fought out there. It’s a really cruel way to lose.”