While Cromane supporters, players and management team bask in the glory of a County Novice Championship title, they can thank the leadership qualities of the their inspirational captain Donnchadh Walsh for this win, though Sean O’Sullivan was the player who killed off Ballydonoghue with those late missiles from long range.
Walsh is aware of what this win means to Cromane a club only founded in 1983.
“The conditions made it extremely tough today and that made it difficult for us to play the football that we wanted to play, which was long into the forwards but we were not able to do that from the start because we were against the wind.
“You have to have two game plans, one against the wind and one for when you play with it. But I thought that this win came down to work rate, because when I won the toss we opted to play against the wind.
“We knew that if we worked hard during the first half, and we were going in only one point down at half time, we knew we were in with a great shout. We took it on in the second half and despite there being a lot of work, because Ballydonoghue came at us, so we had to grind out the result and we did.”
What pressure does finals like these bring upon club players?
“There is pressure not only from your own team where you have to be seen as being a leader because being from a small club, they aspire to myself and Sean and they want to be like us and do whatever we do. When Sean goes on a surging run, it really lifts the team just like when he got that great point today that leveled the game. The other players take heart when they see the top players playing well so it does bring on pressure but it’s nice pressure.
“It means so much to win with the lads you grew up with and went to school with. The club was formed the year before I was born so this is a young club and I am as old as this club which is unusual and its makes it so sweet. We had awful problems trying to get a field and to get the club running because not everyone was happy with our birth so it’s a payback to our parents and club management down the years who put in so much work to enable us to play in a county final and to win it is just so pleasing.”
Meanwhile, Ballydonoghue manager Tadhg Carr had few complaints but felt that his young side did not do enough in the opening half.
“We did not have enough on the board at half time because we found it hard to adopt to the conditions, when we played with the wind in that opening half. We did not take our scores in the opening half, and we missed a few frees that were very scorable and that proved the difference between victory and defeat.
“Seán O’Sullivan stepped up to the plate in the second half and kicked those vital late frees for Cromane when we had edged in front late on. This was the difference at the end when you have a county player that will stand up to the plate.
“Fair play to the county lads like Seán and Donnchadh Walsh, whom I thought was head and shoulders above everyone else. They are still doing it at the end of the year in those conditions for their clubs, despite having All-Ireland medals in their pockets. It just tells you what players they are and what Kerry football is about at the minute and what the club means to them. I think that game today shows how healthy club football is and maybe we should not believe all we read.
“I never doubted our lads and we were without Paul Kennelly today, who has scored 6 -78 for us all season, and with Eamon Walsh only coming on as a sub, we were always going to a bit shy up front but with so many youngsters in the squad, we are building for the future and we wish Cromane well but we will be back.”
- from The Kerryman