Galway have only themselves to blame for their one-point defeat to rivals Mayo in Sunday’s Connacht Final, according to manager Padraig Joyce, who said that his team were heartbroken, but were just not clinical enough when it mattered.
The former double All-Ireland winner said that he was immensely proud of the side, but that the mistakes they made were unforgivable.
“We had no-one to blame but ourselves. We just fell short at the end, we weren’t clinical enough. Thirteen points is not good enough to win any game,” he said, adding that he had issues with the standard of officiating throughout.
“The lack of games had nothing to with it. We trained hard here for the last two weeks. The mistakes we made today were unforgivable from our point of view.
“Mayo scored eight points in the first half. We had six handling errors for six of those eight scores. The lads battled hard, our game plan worked to a T, but we just didn’t execute the clinical edge.”
He added that the sloppiness also led to some of the injuries suffered.
“You will always get injuries in a game, that is why you have a panel of 26b players. Johnny Duane worked really hard but got an injury from a bad pass given to him.
“So we are not looking for excuses, we have only ourselves to blame. We take it on the chin. Mayo deserve credit for the fifth week in a row playing and they will go on to represent Connacht and they will do well going forward.
“There is nothing else we can do, it is knockout football and we will learn huge lessons from it. The lads will look at their performances and revaluate what they are at. I am proud to be their manager, but some of the mistakes we made there today, I don’t know where they came from. We didn’t hold possession a lot of times.
“The officiating annoyed me. One occasion, Liam Silke had a man lying on his back. Diarmuid O’Connor came in to nail one of our players and we were denied an advantage.
“The penalty. I did not see it. Again, it was a rugby tackle.But the lads were adamant that it was inside the big square."
He said that he was content to be just three points down at the break against the breeze.
I was happy with the position we were in at half time, three points down, even though I wasn’t happy with the way they had played.
“They covered the ground really well and broke up the channels going into Aidan O’Shea. Sean Kelly had an immense game on him. They defended really well. But thirteen points is not enough to win any match.
“We will try and build on this though. It was a massive opportunity to get into an All-Ireland semi-final or final. It is a difficult year and it is heartbreaking to be out of it. It is tough, it is mentally draining to be there seven months of the year not knowing whether they would be playing football. We learned a lot as management this year, and we will come back whenever it is, January of February, we don’t know and we will be stronger for it. Sometimes in defeat you learn more than you do in victory.
He said that for Damien Comer, if the game been a week later, he would have been nearly fully fit.
“But he hadn’t the games, and his ball skills were in trouble. When you are marked by top class defenders like Chris Barrett, you cannot afford to spill a ball or they’ll run through ya. He did well, but with more training he would have been immense.
He said that the attitude of Paul Conroy and Gareth Bradshaw has been laudable.
“They’re great lads and they have given great service to Galway,” he said.
His Mayo counterpart James Horan said that his team know that the consequence of victory for either team was huge, given the path that has opened up in the All-Ireland series.
"The prize today was huge," Horan admits. "We get to spend three weeks together now, have eight or nine more sessions together and look forward to whoever it is.
"As it has been all year, we won't focus too much on that. We'll just try and get better, and get our stuff right. Sure we'll be absolutely buzzing to have a go at an All-Ireland semi-final.”
"To win a Connacht final up here by a point is brilliant,"
"We made so many mistakes and did so many daft things, played tentatively, but to stick in and keep at it … there were a few huge moments, I thought, in the game.
"I know Mattie Ruane had a huge turnover out here on the 45 and Eoghan McLaughlin as well. That’s when we were under real pressure.
"They got two massive turnovers for us and Paddy Durcan at the end so a couple of plays like from people just held us in there.
"We are delighted, we won a Connacht title with five games on the trot. We had to go to Leitrim, to go away to Roscommon and go away to Galway and to win it, and to hang in there during four or five minutes of injury-time and hang in there and win it, it’s a huge achievement by the lads,” he said.