The Nire players celebrate at the final whistle after their Co. SFC Final win over Kilrossanty on Sunday night in Fraher Field. Photo: Sean Byrne.
The Nire fans congregated in front of the country end goal. That’s where the dramatic end to this county final unfolded. The bearded warrior Thomas O’Gorman eventually emerged from the crowd. This was his fifth senior football success (2006, 2008, 2014, 2016 and 2018), just one fewer than Shane Walsh. In a low scoring decider, he sang the praises of the Nire management team for winning the tactical battle.
“They were playing defensive and we were struggling to break them down. In the second half, the management made a good call. We changed our tactics on how we played the opposition kickouts. We let them have the kickouts and let them come at us so we were deeper in our own half. So when we got the ball we were able to attack them. Within the first five minutes of the second half, I knew that was the right move. It just turned the game. They couldn’t get out of their own defence because we were all over them. When we turned it over, we had the room inside for Conor. The management made the right call at half time and it really paid dividends.”
They were nearly caught in the fifth minute of injury time however when the ball flew around the Nire goalmouth. O’Gorman was in the thick of it. “It’s hard to describe. We had a few chances to hold onto possession and play out the game. We made mistakes up in the front line and it came down to pure luck that we won in the end because the ball crossed in front of our goals on two occasions in the last thirty seconds. How there wasn’t a Kilrossanty man to touch it in on the other side is hard to believe.”
The 33 year old duelled with county team mate Paul Whyte at the edge of the square and every single ball was so important. “It wasn’t too enjoyable to be honest. We were up by two points in injury time and the ball landed in the small square. The referee had his whistle ready to blow a penalty on me. I stayed close to Paul, put my hand in there and luckily the ball fell away from the two of us. The ball started going around like a pinball then. Thankfully, it stayed out of the net.”
WON FIVE, LOST FIVE
He had a degree of sympathy for Whyte and the rest of the Kilrossanty players after missing out on a first Conway Cup in 29 years. “The top three clubs have dominated the football scene so it’s hard for teams to break into the big three. I’ve won five county titles and I’ve lost five county finals so if anyone deserves sympathy it’s myself and the rest of The Nire lads! We won’t sympathise too much but they had a great year and got to a final. I lost two finals before I won one. It’s an upward trajectory for them. We wish them the best, we’ve a lot of time for that club and they’ve a lot of time for us.”
After appearing in three Munster club finals, they will attack next Sunday’s quarter final against Adare in the Gaelic Grounds. “With this group of players, we put so much into this competition that we’re not going to stop now. It will take a good team to stop us. We will push it to the end.”