SLIGO GRAMMAR 12 GARBALLY 14
The devastation of losing last Wednesday's Top Oil Connacht Senior Schools Cup final was etched on the faces of the mentors and players of the Sligo Grammar in the aftermath.
Despite a performance full of heart, they ended up on the wrong side of a 14-12 scoreline as Garbally College emerged as winners in a closely-fought encounter.
Of course, when the margins are that close, there are always thoughts of what might have been, but for Sligo Grammar mentor James Gavin there was a sense of deep pride in defeat.
"The fact we came back so well in the second half and put them under so much pressure gives me immense pride myself," Gavin said post-match.
"In reality, it was a game of two halves. I'd have to say conditions weren't perfect with a strong wind down the field."
Gavin watched his side perform heroically in the second half, but he like many others at the Galway ground acknowledged the stern defence displayed by the winners.
"I know we just fell a little but short, a little but unlucky in some ways but in other ways fantastic defence by Garbally so we have to give them credit as well," he said.
On their inability to break down that defence, Gavin said his side could not play elaborate, attacking rugby due to the nature of the conditions.
"We have to just play to our strengths, we have a lot of good ball carriers in the pack, sometimes it's a bit easier to defend against those guys.
"Conditions as well meant we couldn't really put the ball wide and the fact that was happening all the time made it quite easy at times for Garbally to defend, but they were very well organised and we found it very difficult to break them down."
Despite a difficult opening, Gavin said he was very pleased with his side's response to conceding an early try, and hopes this campaign will lay the foundation for a successful tilt at the title next year.
"After the first 10/15 minutes when it looked like we were going to be overrun, the way things turned out in the end I'd be very happy," he explained.
"The boys showed great fight, great spirit, great heart and there's no question throughout the years, we've dug out many times over the years with the various teams and with this team as well so I'm hoping next year we can go back and give it another battle for the future.
"When you consider the size of our school in terms of numbers with approximately 250 boys compared to some of the other schools in the province I think we obviously are very proud of the fact that every single year we seem to punch above our weight, with organisation and effort.
"Again, all credit is due to the coaching staff including Gavin Foley, Diarmuid O'Dowd Hill, Mr Staunton, Mr Hall and obviously the boys themselves so hopefully we can build on it for the future."