If Newcastle West manager Mikey Quilligan is anything like the Scot, then one would love to have been a fly on the wall in their dressing-room yesterday.
But, away from the game as a sports contest for a second and what will surely dictate most talk this morning were the unsavoury scenes in the aftermath. Limerick GAA chiefs will meet in the next 48 hours to discuss what sanctions will arise from such a shocking incident.
Newcastle West came into this game as underdogs against their neighbours from Dromcollogher-Broadford, the powerhouse club of Limerick senior football since the turn of this century. Playing with power, pace and no little precision, however, the underdogs were a goal ahead after 16 minutes, and full value for that lead. Full-forward James Kelly had the Drom-Broadford rearguard in complete disarray, notched 1-2, and Kelly was ably abetted by young Michael Quilligan, while the third inside forward, Thomas Quilligan, roamed the plains to excellent effect.
Wing-forward and Shannon rugby player Stephen Kelly was also causing Drom-Broadford major problems with his pace and intelligent distribution.
And then, for no apparent reason, Newcastlewest seemed to sit back. Four consecutive points Newcastle West conceded before the break (Micheál Reidy with three, two of those from soft frees) and they trailed at the break 0-8 to 1-4.
Into the second-half and again Newcastle West started well, three Michael Quilligan points in the first nine minutes regaining the initiative, Drom-Broadford again struggling to contain the youthful zest of their big-town rivals. Again, however, Newcastle West seemed to turn off the tap and had the Drom attack brought their shooting boots, the next 10 minutes would have seen the game well and truly over. Three points Drom scored, the first an absolute cracker from wing-back Gareth Noonan, the impressive Derry McCarthy and captain Patrick Donnelly with the others; five wides though, one worse than the next, which meant this was still anyone’s game.
In the 54th minute, and for the third time, the pendulum again swung the way of Newcastle West, and again it was the burly James Kelly doing the damage, on the end of a fine move involving James Lee and Thomas Quilligan to finish with another powerful blast to the roof of the net – at 2-7 to 0-11, just over five minutes remaining, Newcastle West’s first title since 1992 was within their grasp.
Derry McCarthy narrowed the margin to just a point in the 58th minute with his third point but then, in injury-time, the golden opportunity came for Newcastle West — an inviting cross-cum-lob by James Kelly for sub Paul Hannon to simply fist to the net. However, Hannon hesitated, tried to control, Drom keeper Keith Noonan was across like a shot, chance gone, the subsequent 45’ also missed.
A minute later James Kelly picked up a second yellow card for a needless foul and before he had even left the field Drom took a quick free, ball ended in the hands of the deadly Micheál Reidy – game-tying point from distance.
And what of Quilligan’s assessment of his side’s performance? “You’re always disappointed when you draw but ultimately we didn’t play well enough to win that game – I thought we were absolutely atrocious. We played for about 20 minutes, for 40 minutes we were atrocious and there’s no point trying to hide that. I thought we played absolute rubbish, I think we were very lucky to get a draw.”
He continued: “We started well but our forward line is like any other forward line, if they get good ball they will hurt you. They were doing piles of damage but for some reason we stopped kicking them the ball – it beggars belief but these things happen. We’ll have to come back here four or five steps higher the next day.”
And Drom-Broadford manager Mikey Fahy’s reaction? “We missed a lot of chances, in the second-half especially, playing with the wind we should have been more efficient.”
Scorers for Drom-Broadford: M Reidy 0-5 (2f); D McCarthy 0-3; M Brosnan 0-2; G Noonan, S Buckley, P Donnelly (f), 0-1 each.
Scorers for Newcastle West: J Kelly 2-2; M Quilligan 0-4 (2f); T Quilligan 0-1.
Sub for Dromcollogher-Broadford: B Noonan (O’Leary 23).
Subs for Newcastle West: B O’Doherty (McAuliffe 27); P Hannon (Lyons 52); B O’Sullivan (Dowling 52); S Kelly (Browne 60); G Reidy (Hannon inj. 60+2).
Referee: R Moloney (Bruff).