ROUND Towers manager, James Leavy was adamant that his side had not missed the chance to bring home a first Kildare MFC ‘A’ title to the club since 1954.
Despite trailing defending champions Celbridge by eight points after just 17 minutes, Towers turned the game completely on its head thereafter and in fact led by three points (2-12 to 2-9) deep into time added on.
However, a last ditch penalty from Celbridge’s Paddy Brophy – awarded five minutes into stoppage time – rescued the day for Celbridge and left Towers’ hopes dashed in the short term at least.
“We are disappointed,” acknowledged Leavy.
“When you are leading a game and you are into injury time three points up, you are always going to be disappointed but I suppose it’s a matter of regrouping and focussing on the next day.
“But it hasn’t gone from us and it hasn’t gone to anyone else yet. If it is to be our title and our medals then we are going to have to do it again over another 60 minutes.
“It’s 21 years since we were last in a county final and it’s nearly 60 since we won one, so I don’t think it’s going to take much of an effort at all to get these lads back up for the next day.
“We’ll go away from today, regroup and come back stronger than ever; it’s what this team has done all along.
“I suppose if you are winning a load of titles then maybe this result might be a psychologically bigger blow then this is but as I said, it’s 21 years since we were last in a county final and close on 60 since we last won one, so I can’t see this putting them off.”
While Leavy had no complaint over the manner in which the penalty was awarded, he did reserve special praise for his troops, who entered the game as rank outsiders yet nearly departed St Conleth’s Park with the Gilligan Cup in their grasp.
“We have been headed in games before, both in the league and the championship this year, yet we have always come back in some shape or form,” he continued.
“To be, and it’s a big statement for a team who were underdogs, but there is huge belief in this team. I am the lad who is out in front but there is a team of selectors with me who are excellent, and indeed the lads (players) themselves who have put in a huge effort and rightly all the credit goes to them.
“They have initiated this; they started back training in December and have put in a huge effort to get themselves to this stage.”
Meanwhile, Leavy’s counterpart Trevor O’Sullivan, insisted that it was a loss of intensity in their play rather than complacency that saw them on the verge of relinquishing their crown.
“We had plenty of possession for long periods of the second half but failed to convert it into scores; that’s something that we obviously need to work on to ensure that we get it right for the next day,” commented O’Sullivan.
“It was a funny game really in that we came out of the blocks flying; we dominated the early stages and were up 2-4 to 0-2 after 17 or 18 minutes.
“But I think we dropped our intensity from there, while Round Towers upped theirs; they scored 2-6 without reply and showed great character to go in at half-time in front.
“That put the onus on us to come out fighting in the second half and again I think we did but kicked too many wides. And that’s what we need to work on, in that we need to get our composure right.
“I wouldn’t say it was complacency because in a game like that when you are so far ahead so early on, lads can drop their intensity and I think that is what actually happened.
“But it’s a sign of a good team though when they never give up and keep battling. To be three points down, young lads can look up at the scoreboard and see that and that time is up but they did show tremendous character to Referee Henry Barrett gets his award from county board chairman John McMahon after refereeing Round Towers v Celbridge in the Minor A Football Championship final at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. keep going right until the end and create the goal chance.”
Left, Glenn Ryan keeping a close eye on the Round Towers minors.