Mental strength key to Na Piarsaigh victory, says Shane O’Neill

Na Piarsaigh’s Shane O’Neill admitted to concerns about the way Oulart seized the initiative in Saturday night’s game, paying tribute to the Wexford men’s mental strength.

“Oulart had all the momentum in the last 10 or 15 minutes. They showed how mentally strong they were. I said to the boys after full-time if I was told before the match we were going to go to extra-time, that I’d back them. I felt we would get there in extra-time and that’s what happened. But Oulart put up an unbelievable show in the second-half, in the last 15 minutes in particular, which caught our fellas by surprise.

“You could see how much Oulart wanted it but I think maybe our legs, our age profile got us through. But the lads are extremely mentally strong as well, despite the fact we had lost all the momentum and everything was thrown at us, we just regrouped and the boys went at it again which was a great sign.”

O’Neill paid tribute to his side’s noisy support: “For a city club like ourselves, it was the first time I’d ever heard a roar of ‘Na Piarsaigh! Na Piarsaigh!’ at half-time of extra-time coming from our supporters. It means everything – six coachloads left the car park this morning, but there’s no point in getting there and not turning up.”

It all means a St Patrick’s Day appointment in Croke Park to face Cushendall in the All-Ireland final.

“I don’t know much about Cushendall,” admitted O’Neill. “I expected them to give Sarsfields a right go, they played Kilmallock last year and Kilmallock are a serious club side but they were there or thereaboutsolnly for Kilmallock’s class to show in the end. But I don’t know much about them.”

Regarding Ronan Lynch’s free in the first-half, Oulart boss Frank Flannery was magnanimous:

“Ah I think we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, I think it did actually bounce in fairness so look, we had chances for points before that, we didn’t take them. I thought we were slack starting, David (Redmond) got a bit of a knock, I don’t know if he’s concussed or not. He’s our key man. We have no excuses, we died with our boots on but at times we went away from the gameplan and that was the end of us. They took their chances better. We were 5/2 with the bookies and they were 4/9. I thought we gave a great account of ourselves. We wanted to win and I’m bitterly disappointed but I couldn’t ask for any more from the lads.”


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