Kelly: we knew this would be a battle

PORTUMNA manager Johnny Kelly has admitted that Ballyhale Shamrocks will lack for nothing in terms of motivation when the two sides meet in the AIB All-Ireland club championship decider at Croke Park next month.

The Galway side blitzed their Kilkenny counterparts in the semi-final in Semple Stadium last year, scoring five goals on their way to victory and setting up their third final appearance – and success – in four years.

“Our sole focus today was Dunloy. We were beaten by Dunloy before and I don’t think we were ready for a battle that time. We realised this time that we would be in a battle. We knew we were in for a dogfight.

“I haven’t seen Ballyhale or Newtownshandrum play this year but they are two quality teams and I had a feeling that there wouldn’t be more than a score in it. That’s how it turned out. Ballyhale will have a lot of motivation now after last year.”

Portumna posted an ultimately comfortable winning margin yesterday but it was far from a vintage performance and Kelly knows only too well that they will need to empty their locker on St Patrick’s Day at headquarters.

“It has been a while since we played a game at that pace and that will stand to us the next day. I would be mindful of some of the mistakes we made but we will look at the DVD and see where we can improve. We got some good scores there towards the end and we would be happy enough.

“Our striking was a bit slow and we will need to speed that up. There were times there when we got caught. That is usually a feature of our game, that we catch other teams, but well done to Dunloy, they caught us a lot.”

It is a measure of just how much is expected of this Portumna side that there should be caveats attached to a 12-point victory but Dunloy did enough to prove that the Connacht side are not invincible despite their recent run of success.

The Ulster side had much the better of the third quarter and came within four points of parity at one point before Portumna pulled away once again but Kelly was not overly-concerned by that temporary change in fortunes.

“No, we had spoken about that before the game and again at half-time, that they might get a bit of a run on us at some stage. It was important if they got a few scores that we got on the board again as quickly as possible.

“Every team is going to get a period of dominance and they got theirs after about ten minutes of the second-half and they made good use of it but we came back and got a couple of scores and killed them off in the end.”


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