The shoe was on the other foot for once on Saturday for Moorefield. In the county final win over Celbridge they managed the game superbly with just 13 men for the majority of the tie, and when they had Cian O’Connor sent off in the Leinster semi-final they still ground out a victory over Rathnew.
Another sending off came early in their All-Ireland semi-final defat to Corofin, but this time it was Moorefield who had the numerical advantage as Martin Farragher was harshly sent off in the second minute for a harmless clash with Liam Healy.
From there on it presented the Moores with an interesting challenge as they sought to use the extra man to their advantage, but it never really paid dividends.
“When you come out the wrong side of it [you think] we probably could have done more with it,” remarked manager Ross Glavin shortly after full-time on whether or not his side could have managed things better.
“Again, I keep saying I can’t fault any of the players. With a minute to go it was a draw game and it was there for the taking. If we came out the right side of the result, the spare man would have been used effectively enough.
“We were prepared for a battle and we wanted to keep it tight. We wanted to close out their key men, particularly Burke up top, and the one moment we gave them a sniff, he did what he has been doing for a long time. He’s a quality inside forward, and what’s so good about him is that he’s a selfless player. He brought in a strong runner from deep and it was a sucker punch at that stage of the game.”
Despite the incredible run that Moorefield have enjoyed since the beginning of 2017, and the reality that they were ultimately beaten by a better team on Saturday, there is a feeling that the Newbridge outfit somewhat left this game behind them.
“It’s a horrible feeling… it’s not a nice dressing room to be in,” said Glavin.
“When you get to this stage there are fine margins in it, but to a man I can’t fault any of the Moorefield players who have represented our club, our town, and our county as positively as they have done over the last 12-14 months.”
Moorefield will look back on the game and think they could have done more, and they were certainly a bit short of the form that brought them to this stage. That was down to a number of factors, even the poor quality of the O’Connor Park pitch could be cited as one. But the step up in quality of opposition, combined with the nerves of playing in what was the biggest game of their lives for most of these players, probably had more to do with their performance than anything else.
“It’s a strange game,” responded Glavin when asked if Moorefield were a little nervous.
“When a player gets a red card early in the game and you’re playing a quality opposition, their gameplan is totally restructured and it becomes a difficult proposition to break down. Roles were reversed from when we were in the county final and we managed the game tremendously well with 13 players. It becomes very difficult; maybe it was nerves.
“They were probably a little nervous as well. The first half was probably what we thought it was going to be – it was cat and mouse, and it was a tight battle. We were prepared for that and we went in at half-time where we expected to be.”
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