By Denis J. Croke
IT was hardly surprising that Rosenallis manager Paddy Dunne was on a bit of a high after the final whistle in O’Connor Park. Just like the supporters he had to endure those few dramatic minutes late, late in the game, before being able to realise his dream.
He could hardly believe his charges had gone all the way in Leinster, but in other ways he was not in the least bit surprised.
“No one gave us a chance this year, no one,” he said. “On the first day against Stradbally, it was nip and tuck. Our performance wasn’t right but we knew we had a special group in these lads. They do not know when they are beaten. We came back every round after every round and today is just the pinnacle. For a small little parish, who could imagine it. It’s not reality, is it?
So how did he see the result?
“It’s just unreal. Who would have thought that Rosenallis would be Leinster champions. It’s brilliant and we’re absolutely delighted,” he said. “Now we’ll go on in two weeks time wherever we might be.”
What does not surprise Paddy is the way his players didn’t panic, and looked so composed for much of the game.
“When we need to push on, we push on, and that performance in the second half was phenomenal. When they needed to push on again later, they showed they had the character.”
And it was in that period early in the second half that they pushed the game beyond Bracknagh.
“We said we have to start sharp in the first ten minutes after half time, and we did. Fair dues to the lads, they did kick on, Bracknagh came back, we kicked on a again and it was nip and tuck for the last five minutes.”
But then there was that nervy finish.
“A game like that can swing, and thank god they only got their goal at the end of the game. We knew we had the beating of Bracknagh, but whether our lads would turn up was the question, but we can never question this group again. It doesn’t take one to 15, it takes the whole panel. And that was evident again today.”
And with the hurlers still in the running for All-Ireland honours, Rosenallis must be a very special place to be in now.
“You drive through Rosenallis now and it’s a sea of green flags, all over the place. The hurlers will go out next week and I have no doubt about it that they will win too. Tiredness doesn’t come to these lads. Their young, their fresh, they’ll take it easy for the week and come out as fresh as ever.”
And now the footballers next pouting will be to either Edinburgh or Manchester, how does Paddy feel about that?
“We may get the passports ready. We’ll have 25 lads going over but whether we have 25 coming home might be a different story.”