Having seen Gortletteragh claim the GWP Championship after a pulsating battle against Dromahair, Tom Ward, who makes up a third of the management team was initially lost for words when asked to describe his emotions but it wasn’t long before Tom was analysing the game and reserving special praise for two people in particualar.
Last year’s manager Tom Crowe wasn’t involved in the team this year but was in Ballinamore supporting the team and Tom Ward was keen to ensure the work he has done in Gortletteragh in recent years wasn’t overlooked.
“We had our ups and downs throughout the year and I suppose one particular loser in the whole thing is Tom Crowe. Tom was manager here and through no fault of his own he had to step aside and he stepped aside in the interest of the team and he got his reward today. I’d just like to compliment Tom on that. He certainly enjoyed it, I was talking to him on the pitch but it’s sad to see what happened but he’s big enough and bold enough.”
Another who was singled out for praise was Ciaran Egan who endured a difficult year after he was dropped from the county panel. Paying tribute to his side’s defence and Ciaran in particular Tom said “Our defence has probably been the strongest part of our team all year and of course we had Terry Kelleher coming back. When you have the county full back in there, he’s one of the best on his day. It was a shame what happened to him earlier in the year with the county and its just rewards for him.”
Reflecting on the game Tom felt that if the Dromahair forwards weren’t able to score a goal then Gortletteragh would have a very real chance of making up for last year’s disappointment.
“After being there last year we left it behind us after half time, we had a great chance and we didn’t take it. We knew today that if we got the break, the goal won it for us and we knew that if we stopped them from scoring goals we had a good chance and that’s the way it worked out.
“Dromahair had a wonderful game plan, they dropped back a sweeper and not only did he (Declan Fowley) sweep but he attacked as well. He set up a lot of scores and he scored himself. The fact that there was the sweeper system in front of Darren Duignan meant we knew all we needed was one or two chances and in the end we could have had two more goals.”
Duignan’s goal proved to be the difference between the sides and Tom acknowledged that exploiting the full-forwards pace was something they were hoping to capitalise on - “It was always in our plan that if we could isolate Darren inside on a one to one basis because he has the pace to get away.”
After last years defeat Tom insisted going one step further this year was always the priority and acknowledged that the experience of contesting last year’s final stood to his team
“Our whole approach has been on winning this and it has been since the start. We started very well in the final last year, we started well today too, what we needed to do was to compete for the first 30 minutes and then compete for the second 30..
“It certainly stood to us, the experience of bringing the players down here, warming them up, togging them out, the expectation is not on them again. The nervousness was gone from them and it showed out there. We went in front and then down by a point but I think from then on we were in front throughout. It was a wonderful performance from every man on the pitch.”
Having achieved their main goal for the year there is still the matter of representing Leitrim in the Connacht Championship and also securing promotion to Gallogly Catering League Division One, a feat which remains very much within their grasp.
“It’s not finished for us as of yet, we have a good chance of getting up in the league. If we can get back down to earth in a week’s time and get them back on line that’s what we want”, added Tom.