Manager Martin Dolan didn’t pull any punches after Saturday’s pulsating semi-final, pointing to Leitrim’s failure to execute their game-plan as key in the extra-time defeat.
“I suppose in the end, we fell short,” said Martin, “We didn’t perform as we could have, should have. Great credit to the girls in the second half for that comeback, in the last four or five minutes.
“I really hoped we’d kick on in injury time. We decided if we won the toss, we’d play with the win and really go at it because we finished strong and momentum was with us. But it didn’t play out that way at all. Very disappointing for the girls but you live and you learn and that’s it for another year.
“We didn’t pressure the ball at all in the first half, we didn’t step up at all on the players. We sat back and admired them coming through. Our kickouts weren’t working and to be honest, our game-plan wasn’t followed.
“I suppose we had a little purple patch before halftime that left us six points down, we were incredibly lucky but again we had missed opportunities, key decision making that went against us.”
Leitrim’s transformation almost saw the Green & Gold snatch victory and Martin felt luck didn’t go Leitrim’s way - “The shackles were taken off, we were staring defeat in the face but we drove on and got the scores when we needed.
“Clare Owens hit the crossbar, it bounced down on the line, another day that’s in and we’re in the All-Ireland Final. I felt we were grateful to be level after normal time but Lady Luck didn’t bounce with us today.
“Michelle Guckian kept us in the game, as she has done in a number of games this year. I thought Michelle Heslin inside was the stand out performer for us today, Ailbhe Clancy gave us a huge lift when she came on, the switch of Lorraine Brennan from six to midfield ignited us, she gave us the energy we needed.”
Martin also felt Down’s experience proved key - “Down were defeated by Cavan last year in the semi-finals, their experience told in the end but make no mistake about it, Leitrim had them rattled in the last six or seven minutes and if we had been able to snatch the victory, we’d be looking forward to the All-Ireland.
“We’re bitterly disappointed, we had high aspirations of getting to the All-Ireland Final and I’ve no doubt that Down will lift the trophy. I believe the winner of this day was going to win the All-Ireland and I wish Down the best of luck and that they go on and win it now.”