In the aftermath of last Saturday’s semi-final victory, Four Roads player-manager Andrew Lawlor admitted that his side “ran out of steam a little bit” in the second half. The Tisrara men looked to be cruising towards a comfortable win when they built-up an 11-point lead after 15 minutes.
The gap was still a sizeable eight points at half time, but the game was back in the melting pot with 12 minutes remaining when Pearses cut the deficit to just three points.
“We built up a good score in the first ten minutes,” Lawlor noted in his post-match interview. “But we were lucky enough to hang on in the finish when they came back at us. We ran out of steam a little bit. But we’re just happy to be in another county final.”
Pearses had recorded a three-point win over Four Roads when the sides met in the round robin stage of the championship in late-July. However, Lawlor felt that his charges were much-improved when they locked horns with the South Roscommon club again last weekend.
“I don’t think any of the 15 that played that day could say they played well,” the manager reflected. “But today everyone played well, including the subs that came on. Diarmuid Treacy and Jack Donnelly were serious when they came in. They’re two 18-year-olds and were unlucky not to be starting.
“It’s a hard job to pick the team. Padraig Kelly got injured playing football with Brigid’s last night (Friday). If we had Padraig to throw in there for the last 20 minutes it would have made a serious difference. But hopefully he’ll be back the next day as we’ll need him if we want to beat Athleague,” he noted.
Four Roads wing-back Shane Curley also emphasised the difficulty of the task that lay ahead in the decider.
“It’ll be a big derby game between ourselves and Athleague. They’ll have plenty of hunger too as it’s a while since they won it.
“It’s a very busy period now for the two teams that are left. We have a lot of dual players and so have Athleague. We just need to plan things right and with a bit of luck everyone stays injury-free.
“There’s lots of history between us. Seamus (Qualter) is with Athleague now but he was involved with Four Roads as well when we won a few county finals. So he knows us inside out. There’ll be nothing but a puck of the ball between the two teams,” he predicted.
Curley will bring a wealth of experience into next month’s decider. He has amassed ten senior hurling titles during a long and distinguished career with Four Roads. Two of them came as a substitute and he was on the pitch for the other eight.
However, success has not sated his appetite and he will be determined to add an 11th winner’s medal to his collection on October 7th.
“I was a young fella when I got two as a sub. I didn’t contribute too much to it. When you haven’t too many years left of it, you’d be hungrier than ever to be honest,” the veteran defender concluded