It would never be trotted out as an excuse, but the pressure on the Fuerty players and their manager Eamon Towey was almost unbearable. Lose another final, this time after a replay, and past ghosts would return chuckling at Fuerty’s inability to perform when it mattered.
By Ian Cooney
So it was no surprise to find a relieved Towey struggling to find the words to describe what it meant for Fuerty to land “the big one”. When Oran pared the margin back to two points after 41 minutes, Towey pointed out that his players hadn’t retreated into their shell. Instead they finished like an express train to get the job done with a fair degree of comfort.
“It took me three times as a player to win it, so these championships are hard won. I’m just delighted for the players. Either side would have deserved to win it but I really think that these lads were due a break. Their character was unbelievable. It’s unquestionable.
“Oran deserve huge credit. Their best forward (Paul Kenny) went off after six or seven minutes of the drawn game. Another one of their better players Jack Earley was also injured for today’s game, and they still came out with that hunger to win the match. They put it up to us at the start of the second half. We knew that we could finish strongly but the start was the key.
“All the papers have written the same thing — Fuerty buckle under pressure — and that’s fair enough because it has happened. So now it’s just sheer relief and the lads really deserve to enjoy this occasion. It’s very important for the club. To win for the first time in its history is a huge thing for them,” he explained.
Towey also derived immense personal satisfaction from the triumph, pointing out that Saturday’s eight-point victory was his maiden success as a manager.
“I’ve managed a good few teams in Croan’s and I never won anything. It’s the first thing I’ve ever won as a manager. I remember being part of a management team that won a U-16 league. So it’s a huge relief for me because you have doubts. You ask yourself am I just a nearly man? Is getting teams to finals all I’m good for? So it’s great for me personally but I have a superb management team here,” he highlighted.
Fuerty will lock horns with Shamrock Gaels in the Connacht Club Championship next Saturday, something Towey insisted will be addressed this week at some stage.
“I didn’t know what was happening in Connacht. My sole focus was today. If it’s next weekend, so be it. But it’s important that the lads enjoy this first. They have been waiting long enough. There will be sometime during the week where we’ll have to dust ourselves down, and it will be up to the players where they want to go after this. It won’t be my decision,” he pointed out.
For Fuerty forward Niall Kilroy, it was a quieter day than usual at the office. No player had done more to get his side to this stage, and the Roscommon player was just relieved that his team’s collective effort had overpowered individual endeavour.
“It’s massive. We’ve been working so hard down through the years. So many different people have helped us along the way. We’ve been so close but it was a great performance today. To win something, you have to perform when it matters and I thought we did that as a group.
“I don’t mind what I score to be honest. It’s about making space for the other boys. If they (Oran) were to play a certain way, we knew we could utilise all the other lads on the ball. We had a range of scorers today and that’s what it’s all about — getting the right lads in the right positions on the ball.
“Senior football is going to be another big step-up for this squad. We’ve hurling as well, so we have to contend with that. So it’s about coming together next year and devising a plan between all three clubs, so that all three teams can optimise their performances.
“It’s more relief than anything to be honest. We’ve been working so hard and knocking on the door for so long. Finally we’re there, something that probably won’t sink in for another few days. It’s all about building and making the club the best it can be,” he concluded.