To be playing in the Leinster SFC deep into November is an achievement, but St Loman’s of Mullingar were still disappointed with Sunday’s semi-final exit at Cusack Park.
Ballyboden St Enda’s brought a pacy and powerful team to the Midlands, and Loman’s just could not do enough to cause a shock. The forceful Dubliners controlled the majority of the second half as Loman’s were unable to cope with Ballyboden’s dynamism, especially Michael Darragh MacAuley who was immense.
Despite this defeat, it has been a satisfactory campaign for Loman’s who were content to reclaim the Westmeath county title. That was the objective at the start of the year, a run in the provincial competition merely viewed as bonus territory.
Offaly referee Fergal Smyth was criticised by both camps following a tense encounter, with Loman’s boss Luke Dempsey particularly aggrieved: “I don’t blame the referee as much as who appointed him,” Dempsey said. “We didn’t perform, but there’s a lot to be said for being allowed to perform as well. Really and truly, a Leinster semi-final, where some of the clubs left would beat a Division Four county team, and deserve to be refereed by an inter-county referee.
“We had Cormac Reilly for a very dangerous game in Aughrim, and he did a brilliant job. On both sides. But some of the decisions here were unfathomable, because the game just could not get going, and both teams tried to get it going, wanted to move the ball quickly through the hands, but it was a just a terrible game to be involved with from that perspective. That’s not taking away from the fact Ballyboden probably would have won no matter who was refereeing it.”
Initially, Loman’s were causing problems for the highly rated visitors, as David Windsor forced a splendid save from Ballyboden custodian Paul Durcan who was flown back from Qatar for the game. “It was a turning point, probably the only goal chance we had, and you could see the merits in them bringing Paul Durcan home from Qatar,” Dempsey commented.
McEntee, who has steered Ballyboden back to the summit of Dublin football, admitted Durcan’s intervention was crucial: “Paul’s only back in the last week. He’s under pressure to head back there but we hope to have him back for the final,” McEntee said. “He’s huge to us. He’s got a calm head on his shoulders and the guys have so much respect for him, he makes everyone feel calmer. He sees things that other people don’t.”
When Ballyboden rattled the Loman’s net moments later the complexion altered significantly as Sam Molony struck a fine goal for Ballyboden. Molony’s opportunistic strike ensured Ballyboden went in at the interval armed with a 1-7 to 0-6 lead. “Yet again the goal was the vital score,” McEntee reflected. “The goal was huge and it came at a good time for us, Loman’s were getting a head of steam up.”
After the restart Loman’s, who were becoming increasingly frustrated, could only register three points as Ballyboden closed the deal effectively. Late on former Offaly attacker Ken Casey was dismissed for Loman’s, and the Ballyboden side marched on to face Portlaoise in the decider on Sunday week.