It was a case of taking the rough with the smooth for Athleague senior hurling manager Seamus Qualter as he reflected on a contest that never necessitated his side being rocked from their comfort zone. Yet, the former Roscommon hurling supremo would have liked his side to express themselves more once they manufactured a substantial advantage. That they didn’t will be stick that, no doubt, Qualter will use to keep his players grounded over the next month or so ahead of the county final against Four Roads.
“We were like the racehorse — we limped into it (the final) more so than flew. We got off the blocks well, went ten points up but never pushed on from there. In fairness to Dominic’s they came roaring back into it in the second half. When they got a goal and a few points, suddenly your big lead is nearly gone,” he outlined as he reflected on his side’s 3-14 to 2-10 triumph against St. Dominic’s.
“We stuck at it, but at the moment it looks like we’ve just about fallen over the line rather than playing some fantastic hurling. At times we looked very good. Then, sometimes we looked as if we were going through the motions, so we have to address that for the final,” he continued.
Qualter admitted that Athleague had hoped to establish an early advantage. Hitting that target was a boon, although he felt that their failure to build on their opening half prosperity will represent something to work on for the final.
“We know that we have good pace in the forward line. The lads want to try and express themselves and, in fairness, some of the movement has been very good. But once we went so far ahead, we didn’t carry it through for the second half. There were patches in the game where we were second to the ball. But we’ll work on that ahead of the final.
“We had good performances in the backline. David Connell in goals was very good. We have some good, young forward like Ben McGahon and Cian Murray. Cormac Kelly came back into form today — he was excellent, especially in the first ten or 20 minutes. Eoghan Coyle is a good young player. So we’re happy to be there (in the final) but we’ve plenty to work on,” he assured.
Contesting decisions made by officials is par for the course, and Qualter had no issue with the performance of referee John Cahill. His primary concern is that Athleague are back in their first final since 2014, an occasion that will generate plenty of local interest.
“The referee’s job is hard enough. I thought that there were a few decisions in the second half that didn’t go our way. But that’s the way it goes. You just get on with it. We’ve no complaints.
“It will be a nice build-up around the village and the parish. That’s what these lads have been hurling for all year. So we’re there now, and we’ll try to have a cut at it,” he concluded