Conducting his interview outside a jubilant Mayo dressing room having just congratulated the new All-Ireland champions, Cork manager Sean Hayes cut a magnanimous and proud figure.
His side had carefully cultivated a four-points lead against the wind before they were hit for 2-1 in first-half additional time and even recovered from a third goal seven minutes into the second half.
“We gave seven points in about three minutes, but I thought in fairness they battled back at the start of the second half when another team would have just dropped the heads,” said Hayes.
“They didn’t, they re-grouped and came again. They let in another goal and came back again. When we drew level, my heart was up.
I thought we were going to come out the other side, but the two goals we let in, you are not going to come back from that with two minutes to go. Mayo won, and that’s it. That’s life.
“I am proud of that team since we started at the start of the year. This is our fifth day out in a row. We have beaten good teams on the way. And even against a good team today, we have battled back two or three times. When your luck isn’t in, your luck isn’t in and those things turn against you and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Asked if he was happy with Cork’s performance, Hayes said: “Except for the last two minutes of each half!
“We would love to be doing that,” he said, acknowledging the cheers in the Mayo dressing room, “but we are not and that is what football is about — winning.
“People forget who the losers are in another day and that’s it, and then it’s back to real life and work and all of that unfortunately.
“Fellas gave it everything and that’s all they can do. That’s all we ask of them is to give everything. Fellas will make mistakes and mistakes were made but that’s life, and they have to pick their heads up and go on with it, and go back to their clubs and see where they go from here.”
Hayes reckons Cork missed out on a rub of the green for Mayo’s first goal when he felt a free should have been awarded their way before the ball was transferred across to Diarmuid O’Connor for the goal.
“That didn’t stop us from winning the game,” he insisted.
“We should have driven on when we went level. They just got the lucky break with the goal and that was it then.”
Cork also looked nailed on for an early goal after stealing a short Mayo kick-out but play was called back because of another ball on the pitch.
“We were in, but unfortunately someone let an extra ball go on the field and we lost out because of it.”
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