Heartbreak for Killererin

Some days the sporting gods smile on you, and on others, they seem to have a different agenda.

When you are leading a Connacht senior club final by three points, deep into injury time, and in possession of the leather, you do not expect to concede a major and face extra-time.

Killererin, of all teams in the county, are the masters at strangling the life out of the opposition when they are ahead and that is what made their concession of a three-pointer at such a critical juncture so unforeseen.

They typically keep ball and work the angles and the pitch until they run down the clock, or often create another opening on the break to drive the nail a bit further into the opposition. In general, they know how not to lose.

But there are exceptions to every rule. And it was not to be for them last weekend when they were caught with a late late sucker blow when St Brigid’s struck for an equalising goal from a flick on by Cathal McHugh to a Frankie Dolan free on the stroke of the final whistle.

It was a mortal blow for the home side, and one of their own making on a few counts.

Firstly, they had chances to make it a four-point game and put the tie out of Brigid’s reach. Secondly, they turned over the ball and lost possession when there was absolutely no need to do so, and thirdly, they defended Dolan’s long free into the danger area exceptionally poorly.

Once that green flag was raised, I do not think there was anybody in Tuam Stadium who fancied them to come back from such a psychological hammer blow. The mood in the stand among their supporters was one of shock, disbelief, and the realisation they had blown their greatest chance to get their hands on the Connacht title for the first time in more than three decades.That horrid reality stung like hell.

Declan Kelly practically had his two hands on the cup and when victory is snatched from you in that manner, it is difficult to shake yourself down and bounce back.

St Brigid’s lorded extra time

As anticipated, it was the Roscommon men who powered on and they won pulling up in extra time.

In the first period they out-scored the Galway champions by 1-2 to 0-2, the goal coming from Senan Kilbride, and they were even more dominant in the second period, outscoring a fading and disjointed Killererin outfit by 0-4 to no score.

Noel O’ Brien’s men finished the tie looking by far the fitter outfit and everything they did seemed to be the right decision.

Once Killererin conceded that goal to Kilbride, they needed an immediate response to have any chance of redeeming a bad situation.

They almost got it when the lively Michéal Boyle was set up by a terrific pass in front of goal by Padraic Joyce. Boyle appeared to be fouled just as he lined up his shot and the crowd bayed for a penalty, but Leitrim’s Frank Flynn was having none of it and the chance passed.

With that decision went any possibility of a Killererin come back.

A bitter pill for Killererin

This defeat will be a bitter pill for the proud Barnadearg club.

They set their sights on winning the Shane McGettigan Trophy once they had collected the Frank Fox Cup and they will probably find it difficult to get back to this stage again.

They rode their luck while gaining a three points advantage heading into injury time in the Connacht final – Moycullen and Mountbellew will both feel they could have knocked them out of the county championship, and Ballintubber must still be wondering how they could not score more than one point in the second half of their tie.

You don’t get too many second chances in sport and Killererin will be gutted by letting their glorious chance of provincial success slip by.

They are county champions and they have had a terrific year, but the nature of last Sunday’s defeat will sicken them for a few weeks to come.

However, on the positive side, both Daniel Mannion and Michéal Boyle had very fine games last weekend and both those young players have improved immensely as the season has progressed.

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