EYES ON THE PRIZE Westport United’s James O’Donnell tries to win the ball ahead of Salthill Devon’s Michael Gallagher during Sunday’s game. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
CUP final defeats are always hard to take, especially by the narrowest of margins, and Westport United’s James O’Donnell was understandably disappointed after Salthill Devon lifted the Connacht Junior Cup at Solar 21 Park on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s fairly raw only a few minutes after the full-time whistle,” the number 11, whose 24th minute goal had the Covies dreaming of cup glory, told The Mayo News.
“Naturally we are disappointed, because we felt our game plan came off perfectly in the first half. Things just went against us a little after the break. But that’s finals, we had a good run in the competition and we have to keep the hard work up now as we have league games coming thick and fast. We can’t dwell on it.
“We knew that Salthill like a possession game, but they never really penetrated us in the first half, and we looked dangerous when we got Peter (Corcoran) on the ball, he was holding it up and bringing others into play.
“We took our chance when it came our way, and we were confident at half-time we could go on and win the game. But they got a stroke of luck to get them back into the game, and it gave them the momentum to go on and win it.”
O’Donnell was quick to defend Westport goalkeeper Gary Cunningham after he misjudged the flight of a Salthill free-kick on 54 minutes, in the lead up to Darren Browne’s own goal.
“Gary has saved us on countless occasions, I thought we were very unlucky for the ball to come off Darren the way it did for the own goal. We knew then they’d have phases in the game where they were likely to make chances and they took the second goal well.
“Overall, it’s disappointing, but we have a young squad, they’ll learn from this experience and we are lucky to have more games coming soon. We stuck together as a group during lockdown, we were focused on this competition and football has been great to us all during Covid-19. It’s been a tough few months but we have had the football as a social outlet and keeping us all in shape. It’s a pity we couldn’t go on and win it today but well done to Salthill.”