Talking to any manager in the aftermath of a Final defeat is not an easy thing but Dromahair boss Gerry Ballantine probably summed up what it felt like to lose last Saturday’s GWP Intermediate Championship Final when he described himself as “crushed”.
Asked by the Observer to put words to his disappointment after the presentation of the Frank Reynolds Cup to Gortletteragh, Gerry said “Crushed would be a closer term at this moment in time. It is very hard to take it in.
“When you come into a final, you don’t look envisage anything but a positive outcome, you try and stay positive about it so you can’t prepare yourself for it when you lose.”
Gortletteragh’s desire to win after last year’s final was evident but the Dromahair manager felt that whoever got the goal would go on to win such a tightly matched encounter – “I think that their hunger was one of the factors but in a game as tight as this, a goal was always going to make the difference.
“Whoever got that goal and they happened to get it, an excellent goal they did get and that essentially was the difference between the teams on the day.”
Neither did Gerry seek comfort in praise for the commitment or battling spirit of his players – “I would offer no plaudits for that because that is the minimum I would expect. We just have to go and brush ourselves down, see where we went wrong and see where we can recover. There is no salve for this, you just have to take it on the chin.
“Gortletteragh, I know, are the first to say they know where we are at this moment in time. There is a bright future for Dromahair. Tonight all we’re looking at is that the amount of effort we put in to get us here, that we didn’t get the reward for that and it is very hard to face into again. But I suppose you just have to lick your wounds, take your time and start again hopefully.”
Standing on the pitch minutes after the final whistle was sounded Dromahair captain John Evans could only look on enviously as Darren Duignan accepted the cup on behalf of Gortletteragh. While John was proud of the effort shown by his team mates that was little consolation and the pain of defeat was evident on his face.
“We’re gutted, we put everything in to it and we fell just short. We were on top I felt most of the game but the goal they got, it was hard to come back after the goal. We were on top and I felt we were doing well and if we got another couple of scores then maybe but the goal killed us.”
Despite his disappointment, John was quick to pay tribute to Gortletteragh -“Credit to them they defended very well, you have to give them that. They were where we are last year and all credit to them and best of luck to them.”
After giving so much throughout the year and falling just short John admitted his Dromahair team have learned a lot over the course of the year but if they are to go one step further next year they will require a similar if not greater effort.
“We’ve been trying for a number of years to get to a final and we made it this year and we’ve learned a lot from this year. We put a good effort in and we know we’ll have to do the same or more next year to win the Championship.”