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22/10/2021

Relief for Paul as Gortletteragh's victory comes after a long wait

Relief for Paul as Gortletteragh's victory comes after a long wait

Francie Flynn rounds an Annaduff opponent last Sunday Picture: Declan Gaffney

In the grander scheme of things, waiting eight months for the Smith Monumentals Intermediate Final of 2020 isn’t the greatest hardship but Gortletteragh manager Paul Maguire did admit to feelings of relief last Sunday after his team’s victory over Annaduff.

With a game that was twice cancelled, you can understand Paul when he said “It is a relief to get it played and to win it. You try to prepare as best you can and we didn’t have the championship feel from early on but  there were good tough games in the League and it prepared us well. We trained well and prepared well, we had a couple of good challenge matches along the way as well and that stood to us as well.”

Gortletteragh wasted some great goal chances early on but a good talk at halftime proved the catalyst for victory: “Jack had an opportunity at the very start, I think Cathal had an opportunity after that and we had another one. Annaduff are very tough in defence so they were and they weren’t going to let in anything handy. 

“But we kept plugging away, we kept to our game plan, we didn’t vary away from it, the workrate stayed up. Two points in it at halftime, we got in at halftime, regrouped and had a chat, we knew we were better than what we were playing and lucky enough the lads came out in the second half, they gave it their all and a convincing victory at the end.”

Asked if Gortletteragh had a plan to target Annaduff through the middle, Paul said “We have big strong men around the middle, Niall Woods, John Reynolds, you have James Campbell at centre back coming through and then you have Francie Flynn. 

“It is a big pitch and when you get the ball wide or down the centre, lads running onto it, it is very tough to stop it especially when you have big powerful men like those boys.”

Gortletteragh never relaxed despite a healthy lead as their respect for Annaduff’s battling reputation was very evident: “It is never over till the whistle blows and I think I only started enjoying it in the last two or three minutes. We knew we had a comfortable lead.

“But Annaduff were fighting to the very end, they never gave up - that was the thing about it, they kept plugging away. They kicked a few handy wides from frees so the scoreboard mightn’t reflect the game.”

Gortletteragh are back in action in a Division 2 final next Saturday followed by the Senior championship a week later - but Paul is relishing the challenge! “I think we have a League final next Saturday so we have to prepare for that first so it will be short celebrations so we’re looking forward to it.”

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