He was standing arms folded looking up as his team each took their turn lifting the Nicky Rackard Cup high into the sun kissed Croke Park sky on Saturday, but there as a grin from ear to ear on Mayo hurling manager JP Coen. The man known in hurling parts as “the Rock” had just overseen the first senior hurling championship success for a Mayo side in Croke Park.
“That’s incredible, myself and Laura are expecting our first child in August and there’s going to be second cup coming to our house now this year” was his first response to how he was feeling.
“That is priceless the way those lads finished that game, when it was in the mix we threw in a few subs and thank God Fergal Boland came up trumps along with a few of the other lads it’s just savage.”
Armagh put the pressure on Mayo in the middle stage of the second half, but Coen knew that his side would work till the death he told us. “There’s always a doubt, you’re always think will it or wont it. I think the lads knew they had to go to 70 minutes, they knew no matter what happens how bad or how good it goes they have to keep going. I’m just delighted for them lads, because they went right to the end there and they were just excellent.”
Mayo got a fantastic start with Darren McTigue’s goal, but they weren’t able to push on as much as Coen would have liked, “That goal in fairness to the lads we haven’t been hitting them all year and we hit the ground really well there and it got us up and running. We didn’t kick it on from there as we could have, but they just kept going and going and going and the points kept flicking over.
When Mayo needed a man to lead them Kenny Feeney stepped up over the closing stretch and Cone was fulsome in his praise for his number 14. “He came great for us, he got a massive goal down there (Davin end ) and he got clobbered over there (Cusack Stand side ) and got up and hit a free over the bar and that’s the character of who Kenny is.”
The job isn’t done yet for Mayo with a game against Derry next weekend to decide who will go into the Christy Ring Cup next year, but Monday will be time enough to enjoy that says Coen. “ Another big game, we’re just going to go away and really enjoy this with everyone whose traveled, with our families and friends and we’ll think about Derry on Monday.”