Reflections on Kiltane’s bittersweet Croke Park day

Truagh Kiltane final score

It is the job of the journalist in this modern age to report the facts dispassionately and as quickly as possible. The blogger operates under a different set of rules, however, being for the most part biased towards his own viewpoint and quite often delivering his output to an audience who share his views.

Leaving Croke Park on Sunday I remarked to a few people that it was worse to see Kiltane lose than it had been to see Mayo beaten on all those occasions. Now in hindsight I see that I was completely and utterly wrong about this. I contacted Willie Joe and apologised for being too gutted to pen the match report that evening and now I return to these pages with what I hope is a bit more perspective.

Like the blogger and the journalist Kiltane and Mayo are held to a completely different set of standards and that is as it should be. An Spailpín Fánach remarked a few months back that Mayo only know two things: Sam Maguire or pure misery. Kiltane’s trip to Croke Park was a journey into bonus territory after the primary objective of a return to senior football had been obtained. While the players (and I am gutted for them) will feel they left a Celtic cross behind them, for the supporters the chance to worship at the temple of headquarters was a once in a lifetime thing.

In one of the many football biographies I read as a youth I remember distinctly a passage where the footballer (I think it was Supermac  – Newcastle’s Malcolm MacDonald) spoke about the most devastating losses being FA Cup semi-finals, where you don’t get the chance to go to Wembley and be part of the biggest day of the year. Mayo are beyond that now but for Kiltane last Sunday was magic regardless of the result.

This was a game Kiltane could have won, unfortunately a few vital frees were missed right at the point where Kiltane had reduced an eight-point deficit to just one point and Truagh Gaels were under intense pressure. Had Kiltane gone ahead we might have seen the match develop differently but as it was the Truagh management emptied their bench and the lads who entered the fray were as sure-shot as those who left. If Truagh’s haul of 2-21 was remarkable then even more so was the absence of wides – I cannot recall one in the second half and there were only two in the first.

Kiltane had its heroes however foremost of those being Mikey Sweeney and Ultan Corrigan. Both ran themselves into the ground and having been to Croke Park about fifty times Mikey Sweeney’s goal was as good as any I ever saw on our hallowed turf.

Later as Mikey was being doubled up on by his markers he started to come deep, in some cases to the full-back line to pick up the ball and he was instrumental in Kiltane’s fightback. Ultan gave his marker a terrible time and would be my own candidate for Man of the Match. Honourable mentions would also go to the evergreen Sean Carey and to the captain Pat Joe Gaughan who drove the team forward when things were at their toughest.

If I was to have a gripe about the tactics employed then I would say that Kiltane were guilty of trying too hard to work a goal when the partnership of Daniel McKenna and Mark Counihan for Truagh picked points all afternoon. Also the enforced substitution of Darragh Carey was Kiltane’s only recourse to the talent on their bench. Compare and contrast to the Monaghan team.

Truagh Gaels are worthy All-Ireland Intermediate champions and Kiltane worthy Connacht Champions. Both will leave their mark in their county’s senior scene in 2014. As is customary on these pages after an All-Ireland loss I will leave you again with the words of Teddy Kennedy: “The work goes on,  the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die”.

Roll on the year of football in 2014 that still lies ahead for both Mayo and Kiltane.

9 thoughts on “Reflections on Kiltane’s bittersweet Croke Park day

  1. Right first things first ….Kiltane had at least 4-5 goal chances in the second half alone( clearcut). They were destroyed in the middle of the park and after m sweeney got his goal ( a cracker only bettered by the no 15 for truaghs).they closed rank on himself and tommy conroy. mickey gave way endless amounts of ball and missed 3 clear goal chances in second half and you say he was standout. the only enjoyable thing about that game was truagh no 15, 11 and no 7 who kicked 3 from play in final 10 minutes. another hard luck story but best team won on the day.

  2. A very difficult match report Roger, spoken from the heart and sure it hurts, hurts like hell, because Kiltane could have won it. Too many wide’s, goal chances missed, wrong options taken at crucial times, subs not used and so on,so on. Something very familiar about all this – another Mayo team loose in a final….

  3. Dave, you’re correct about the missed goal chances and highlighting the Truagh’s best players. That’s were the game was lost – the movement and accuracy of the Monaghan men’s inside forwards was super. That combined with our 7/8 great missed goal opportunities.
    But if Kiltane were ‘destroyed’ in midfield, why was the opposition 8 or 9 not mentioned in your contribution. They weren’t destroyed, but very few breaks were picked up by Kiltane in that area.
    Truagh had an older, tougher, and smarter team. Yet, despite the missed goal chances, and loose defending in a couple of positions, it was a game Kiltane could have won – a point down with 9 minutes left.
    A great game for neutrals, and only two things I didn’t like and referees should act more on. One is players going down to kill momentum if the opposition score twice without reply, and Truagh did it on three occasions.
    The second is players standing too close to the free taker and even worse to their sides and talking to them before they take their free. The Truagh number 9 did the latter repeatedly.
    I felt sorry for 18 year-old Tommy Conroy being bullied off the ball and on the ball and I’m afraid Mikey Sweeney’s reputation had reach Monaghan, with markers front and back.
    The main thing now for Kiltane is to hold everyone together and blood two or three more players from their squad during the senior league.

  4. Hard luck Roger – we were all praying you’d do it, but ultimately it sounds like the team who performed better on the day won it out. Glad upon reflection that you and the group can see the importance of the journey and the magnitude of the achievement and we look forward to seeing Kiltane in senior next year. Onwards and upwards!

  5. Roger, enjoyed the article, you are right, this was bonus territory for Kiltane, would have been nice to win but great to have been there. Kiltane have gone for goals all year, it did not work out on the day.
    Maybe mistakes were made, chances not taken, but I could not criticise the team or management based on their performances over the year. Truagh Gaels are a very good team and no shame in being beaten by them.

  6. Yeah Kiltane really gave it everything and left nothing in the tank at the end. Hard luck to you Roger and to all of the Kiltane fans. You can be very proud of your team. Unfortunately Truagh also made the right switches during the game. The Kiltane inside forwards were looking very dangerous early in the game, then a sweeper was brought back to cut off the supply lines. So it just shows, its really key to make the right calls, at the right time to get over the line in the end.

  7. Dave , I will stand by my claim that Mikey was stand-out, but he took on too much in the manner of many players we have seen in games who try to win it on their own. Just during the passages of play alone where Kiltane came back into it he was outrageously good. Lets see how he gets on with Mayo , if the management are cute and use him to his potential we might get 10 years out of him at the very top.

  8. While Kiltane missed a lot of chances – they created 31 and scored 15, compared to Truagh converting 23/30 – that doesn’t mean they were the better team. Some of Truagh’s scores were magnificent and so was their movement. That being said a second half goal for Kiltane could have swung the tide.
    It’s not accurate to say Kiltane were wiped at midfield either. They won 53% of kick outs.
    Hard luck Roger. It was some journey. Keep that with you and keep with you the knowledge that the players didn’t leave anything behind in terms of effort.

  9. Thank you Edwin. Good comments.

    And your stat confirms my defence of Kiltane’s midfield in an earlier post.

    When you consider half of the missed chances were attempts at goal, it could been very different if one or two of them had gone in.

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