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Castlebar had no answer to Connolly, says Holmes

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We had no answer to Connolly – Holmes


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Edwin McGreal

CASTLEBAR Mitchels simply had no answer to the on-fire Diarmuid Connolly in yesterday’s All-Ireland club final, said their manager Pat Holmes in the post-match press conference.
“Look, he’s a fabulous footballer,” said Holmes. “We knew that we had to stop Mossy Quinn and Diarmuid Connolly in particular. I thought Tom Cunniffe did very well on Mossy, but we just didn’t have any answer to Diarmuid Connolly today.”
Holmes was asked if they considered a switch.
“We had one of our most experienced men on him in Eoghan O’Reilly. Eoghan has had a fabulous, fabulous season … Eoghan is a fine, fine footballer. Today, Diarmuid Connolly was just on fire. We put young Patrick Durcan onto him for a while. But our two best man-markers are Tom Cunniffe and Eoghan O’Reilly and they were on St Vincent’s two most dangerous forwards,” he added.
Holmes admitted he feared Mitchels were going to be left behind at several junctures in the game.
“There were stages of the game where we looked like we were going to be overrun, but in fairness to the lads, they kept plugging away and plugging away. We brought ourselves back into the game. Ciaran Naughton made a few fine saves and Danny Kirby got the goal ... but within 30 seconds the ball was down the other end and in the back of the net,” he said.
And the Moygownagh native admitted that the loss of ‘spiritual leader’ Richie Feeney to a black card after four minutes was a ‘huge blow’.
Maybe not today or tomorrow Mitchels will reflect on the year as one of achievement, even if it was bookmarked by defeat in Croke Park.
“Look, any time you come here and you don’t win, you’re gutted and the players are gutted in the dressing-room,” he admitted. “But this is a team that had failed to come out of Mayo for 20 years. To win a county title and all of a sudden they’ve gone on a voyage this year which has been absolutely fabulous. They’ve represented the club with distinction, they’re a credit to the club and their families. Unfortunately today they just were beaten by a better team.”
Mitchels corner back Alan Feeney admitted he was ‘gutted’ afterwards and felt they should have coped better with the Vincent’s attack.
“We knew they were strong in the half-forward line and the four goals we let in, they were sloppy enough, there was a lot we could have done to stop them. The half-forward line was running at us, there were two-on-ones a few times and that killed us. The goals killed us, they came at crucial times. We were just after getting a goal in the second half through Danny Kirby and that had kinda swung the momentum our way. Then they came down and got a goal straight away, which took the wind out of our sails a bit and they kicked on from there. It was going to be hard to come back after that.”
Feeney admitted his brother Richie’s early black card may not have altered the result, but took issue with the black card being brought in for the club competition.
“Yeah, it seems every time he comes to an All-Ireland final, something controversial happens,” he said, tongue in cheek. “It’s this new rule the black card, I think it’s a bit controversial they brought it in halfway through a competition like ours. I know what they a trying to achieve with it, but it’s harsh bringing it in for a semi-final and a final.
“At the same time I’m not sure it would have made much of a difference, Vincent’s were much stronger on the day.”

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