After watching An Spidéal’s Connacht semi final win over Belmullet, an extra time victory in which nine out of the team’s 13 points came from dead balls, Fuerty manager Eamon Towey was very keen that his players didn’t give their Galway opponents the chance to rack up a similar number of scores from frees on Sunday afternoon at Tuam Stadium.
In terms of discipline close to goal, he got his wish. But unfortunately An Spidéal were unrecognisable from the team that came through a dour encounter a week previously. On this occasion all six starting forwards scored from play for the Galway side, not to mention both midfielders, as they prevailed by a point in Sunday’s Connacht intermediate decider.
Twenty-eight minutes had expired and 1-7 was already on the board for An Spidéal by the time there was a wide ball at the Fuerty end of the field, and Towey admitted that the efficiency of the Gaeltacht club was a decisive factor in their win.
“We would have thought that forcing them to shoot under pressure would have been the right thing to do given how much they had relied on frees but Spiddal deserve credit for the way they took their chances and were so efficient in front of goal. If we were a small bit more efficient, it could have been us,” said the St. Croan’s man.
Efficiency, controversial cards, late narrow wides — there were any number of swing moments that could have turned the game in favour of the Roscommon club, but Towey didn’t want to dwell on things like that, instead turning the focus back to the achievements of the club in 2018 and how Sunday’s defeat won’t change any of that.
“Of course it’s put a bit of a dampener on things but when the lads reflect, they’ve made a really significant piece of history this year. For the first time, Fuerty have won the intermediate championship, and that’s done, regardless of what happens”.
Towey was given the chance to comment on the straight red card that was shown to Philip Neilan shortly before half time, but he dismissed that as just another part of the game.
“I don’t think anyone can be disappointed, even the lads that got sent off or got black cards. A lot of that can be out of a player’s control, it’s down to the referee’s interpretation.
“I didn’t see the incident so I can’t fully comment on it, but Philip was devastated. The work he’s done, he went to America and the start of the year and since coming back he hasn’t missed one training session. That lad should hold his head up high, and the lads put the work in for him once he was sent off and tried their best to win the game for him,” he highlighted.
Certainly the situation looked bleak at half time, with Neilan sent off and Spiddal five points in front, but the landscape changed after the break.
“We dug a pretty deep hole for ourselves all right, but the lads deserve massive credit for how they got back into it. There were so many occasions in that game where we were under the pump. Some of it was self-inflicted with turnovers, some of it was decisions made by the referee that were out of our control.
“We had the foundations down to go on and win, but after getting the five points in a row and getting on a par in terms of numbers on the pitch, they got the next two points. So much effort and energy had gone into responding to adversity during the game and that told in the last few minutes when Spiddal got their last point or two.
“It was there to be won, and Spiddal took their chances. But we pushed them as hard as we could, and that’s all I could ever ask for. The lads deserve huge credit, what they did for themselves, their club, their families and the county of Roscommon — they can be really proud of themselves,” he concluded.