Tuesday 21 November 2017

Mullally hails 'special bunch' as Storey admits pressure took toll

James Hickey, Mount Leinster Rangers, celebrates with manager Tom Mullally, after the game
James Hickey, Mount Leinster Rangers, celebrates with manager Tom Mullally, after the game
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Mount Leinster Rangers manager Tommy Mullally admitted it was a victory for substance over style as they became the first Carlow team to win a Leinster senior hurling title.

His side's shock win over Oulart-The Ballagh was built on a physical level that the Wexford champions sometimes found difficult to live with.

"You use what you have. We mightn't have the silken skills so we make up for it in other ways," admitted Mullally, brother of former Kilkenny players Richie and Paddy.

"We knew we were underdogs and while we mightn't have played great hurling today, our job was to win the game. That's what we came to do and that's what we did.

"There was no point coming up here not thinking we could win. This is a special bunch of players, they pride themselves on doing it right.

"They don't get carried away with success – they didn't get carried away with the win over Ballyboden, for instance."

Mullally revealed they had expected Oulart would "start asking themselves questions" if the scores were close late on.

"When we started, we wanted to get into the dressing-room still in the game, and we felt if it was in the melting pot with 10 minutes to go that Oulart would start asking themselves questions. But we had to have our players ask questions of them, and they did."

Devastated Oulart-The Ballagh manager Martin Storey acknowledged that his players might have felt the weight of expectation after losing three Leinster finals in a row.

"I'd say the players were probably feeling a little bit of pressure," he said. "You don't know. You can't get inside anybody's head to know. But they were trying so hard, we never loosened up to relax enough, I'd say, to just stroke the ball over the bar. We were trying to force it over the bar. And if you're trying that hard, it goes wrong on you at times.

"I wouldn't say they were nervous. I would just say they were feeling pressure. Nervous is something you get when you're a young fella and you haven't been there before. But pressure is a thing that's in the back of your head somewhere. 'Jesus Christ, let's hope this don't go wrong again...' And that can come out in your performance.

"But there are no excuses – we didn't perform well enough to win the game.

"Is it a psychological thing? Is it a physical thing? Are we too predictable? You can come up with 10 scenarios. I'll sit down tomorrow and come up with five or six scenarios to change it for next year. We might not even be there next year."

Storey admitted it was a worse experience than losing a third consecutive final to Kilcormac-Killoughey last year.

"It's harder for me anyway. It's hard for the lads. You have to realise that these are amateurs. They don't get a penny. They drive from all over. They never miss training. They don't really have a social life for seven, eight months of the year.

"They're totally committed to it. You don't deserve a Leinster medal, you have to win it. They've been in a fair position now for four years and still come up short at the end of it. It's heartbreaking for the players."

Irish Independent

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