Nobody in Charleville needed reminding about how fickle half-time scores can be.
John Moloney’s men had reeled in a ten-point deficit against Feakle of Clare in the Munster decider and they discovered here just how tricky it can be to be the hunted rather than the hunter.
Up by six at the change of ends yesterday, the Munster champions would claim just five points in that second period. Andrew Cagney’s brilliant effort in the 45th minute would be their only contribution to the scoreboard from play in that vast expanse of time and that was never going to be enough.
Not in an All-Ireland final. And not when they would lose two players to eminently preventable red cards. Losing Jack Doyle for a swipe of the stick to an opponent’s ribs was careless. Losing Cathal Carroll for the same offence was close to criminal.
Truth is that Charleville were shipping far too much water before those two breaches but there was an admirable closing of the ranks afterwards with a position of collective responsibility adopted for a game that slipped through their fingers.
“We thought we were in a fairly good position at half-time but that we would still have to drive on and get the first few scores in the second-half,” said Moloney. “It seemed to be that they got the few scores and the few sendings off went against us as well.
“But, as we said in the dressing room there now, there is no fella going to be blamed for anything. We came in together and we will go home together and we will be blaming no-one. It is just that on the day things didn’t pan out in the end.”
It made for a frustrating and disappointing end to a wonderful intermediate campaign but one that changes nothing in the overall scheme of things. A mediocre junior outfit at the start of the decade, Charleville will still be playing senior hurling come April.
“At the start of the year if we were told that we would be up senior hurling, that’s what we wanted. We won the Munster and that was a bonus as well. Today would have been the icing on the cake but it didn’t happen. We are happy with our year until this.”