Leitrim Gaels may always have been the underdogs in last Sunday’s AIB Connacht Club Junior Championship clash against Ballinasloe but that didn’t make it any easier for manager Daithi Foley to take after the final whistle.
After a prolonged chat with his players on the field afterwards in an effort to refocus minds for the rest of the League, Daithi told the Observer “It is tough to take there today but Ballinasloe went out, they fought hard, they won fair and square and they were the tougher team here today.
“We have a panel of 19, 20 lads but they came here with 40 lads so that shows you. We battled with them for the first half and both teams were reduced to 14 but the goal, it sort of opened it up for Ballinasloe and made it an awful lot harder for ourselves.”
The week between the Leitrim Junior Final and Sunday’s game was no doubt filled with celebrations and Daithi admits that the Gaels focus may have been hit by their breakthrough win – “That’s it, maybe a touch of the hangovers still there from last weekend.
“They were very passionate about winning the Junior title this year, they did it and maybe they rested on their laurels a wee bit. I know they were out to represent the County there today, they fought hard but it just didn’t go for them today.
“Scores they got last week and in previous days just didn’t go for them today and that’s probably down to tougher opposition here today. Ballinasloe definitely would give any Intermediate team a run in any of the five counties in Connacht.
“Hats off to them, they played well but hats off to our lads, they battled right through to the end. What can I say, you have to be gracious in defeat as well as in victory.”
Retaining Division 2 League status now becomes the priority as Daithi admits – “We’ve three League games left and we need to win one or two of them to be absolutely sure we’re going to be in Intermediate status next year.
“You are coming into November now, a tough time of the year to be playing but it is the same for every club and it is up to us to get these fellows back and playing for the League.”