As Frankie Dolan watched his side spurn a number of big chances in normal time, one couldn’t imagine the St. Brigid’s manager in his pomp, as a player, being so profligate in front of goal. Yet as Dolan began to sift through the rubble from Sunday’s agonising defeat at the hands of Corofin, he had nothing but praise for his players in terms of their endeavour to make the Roscommon champions a provincial force once more.
That day may come sooner than people think in light of this brave performance but, deep down, Dolan, living in the moment, knew that his side had left Corofin off the hook.
“I knew that there was a performance in the team. We had the chances. We missed a few crucial frees coming up the home stretch. Other days they go over but they’re crucial frees at this level. If they go over, you might scrape over the line. Unfortunately we missed them and they came back to haunt us.
“I thought that we should have been in front at half time. Again, I felt that a few refereeing decisions went against us. I thought we had to work extremely hard to get frees. They got softer ones but you’ll have that.
“Overall, I’m just very proud of the team. We’ve come a long way in 12 months. I couldn’t ask for anything more from the players. They went nip and tuck with contenders for the All-Ireland title. We’ve brought a lot of young players into the team over the last two years. The experience has been brilliant for them,” he explained inside a devastated St. Brigid’s dressing room.
Apart from the chances, Brigid’s didn’t do much wrong during the contest. Even the majority of substitutes introduced made a difference and Dolan hoped that the players would regroup and learn from Sunday’s experience.
“I think we left it behind us (in normal time). Lads dug deep and went to the well. The lads that came in added to it. The heavy conditions took their toll near the end. That’s football but credit to everyone involved.
“We created the chances, which was great. But they didn’t go over the bar. Still, I’m so proud of the lads — from number 1 all the way up to number 34 they’ve put everything into it the last couple of weeks, even the last two years.
“We closed the gap but I think we should have won the game. I think we played the better football in normal time. Now this group of players will have to go at it again. It has been a great year for the club from underage up to senior.
“They’re good footballers and we had to freshen it up. But that’s what we expect of them, nothing less. Everybody put their shoulder to the wheel. But I keep coming back to the chances. You have to take them against a team in contention for the All-Ireland.
“You have to give credit to Corofin. They kept digging and digging, and they got a lucky goal in the second period of extra time to kill off the game. That’s just the way it goes,” he summarised.
“Lads knew that they didn’t prepare the way they should have prepared last year. But they dusted themselves down from that mauling. They prepared well for this game. It wasn’t ideal with a few lads on holidays and away with work. But the lads will be going for three-in-a-row in Roscommon next year, which isn’t an easy thing to do,” he continued.
Understandably, Dolan didn’t want to be drawn on whether he would be manager for the next stage of this particular team’s journey.
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I’m just disappointed for the players, the backroom team, Tomás Beades, Mike McDonnell, PJ Martin, Noel Murray and these lads. I’m not going to make any decisions now,” he concluded.