Ryan Byrne/INPHO Naas players look on as Kilmacud lift the cup.
# tough day
'It's upsetting more than disappointing but no excuses'
Eoin Doyle reflected on a Leinster final defeat for Naas.

EOIN DOYLE CUT a disconsolate figure in the wake of Naas’s Leinster club final defeat to Kilmacud Crokes on Saturday night. 

The Kildare defender had doubled up to help oversee the team in a managerial capacity in recent months. They delivered their first county title in 31 years and reached a maiden provincial decider, but that was where the fairytale ended. 

Leading by a point at half-time, Kilmacud Crokes were ruthlessly efficient in the second period. Naas failed to score after half-time as their opponents reeled off six scores and defended brilliantly. 

“It’s upsetting more than disappointing but no excuses,” he remarked.. “At half-time I thought we were in a good position.

“I thought we were attacking well. Probably missed a few scores that we should have got. But second-half I don’t know for whatever reason…they kicked over two or three points.

“They got two, three, four points ahead and then they just controlled it from there on it. From their perspective it was excellent time management and game management. They were just that bit more experienced in that second-half. I thought we lacked a bit of power and know-how up front.”

Asked if Kilmacud mirrored the sort of game-management Dublin would employ during their six-in-a-row success, Doyle disagreed.

“It’s not a Dublin thing at all, it’s an experience thing,” he replied.

“Like I said, they were here a few years ago against Mullinalaghta and they would have got pipped at the line in that game, if I remember it correctly, so they would have learned massively from that. I hope our lads learn from this.

“It’s just a bit of know-how, game management experience, and I thought they did it very well, in fairness to them. They frustrated us for long periods in the second-half.”

Darragh Kirwan was a significant loss, missing out with a suspected torn calf, while fellow county forward Alex Beirne hasn’t played since the county final win over Sarsfields. 

“Big loss, yeah of course he was,” he said of Kirwan. “No more than Alex and Paul McDermott. Not only are they all forwards but they’re all big strong, powerful forwards and we probably lacked a bit of that. 

darragh-jones-and-eoin-doyle Ryan Byrne / INPHO Eoin Doyle takes on Kilmacud's Darragh Jones. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“He (Kirwan) was a loss. Paul Mannion was a loss for them and I’m sure there was more there were missing as well. You don’t want anybody to miss a game of this magnitude whether it’s a Crokes man or a Naas man because they come few and far between. But that’s part and parcel of sport as well.”

In time Naas will look back on the 2021/22 campaign as a successful one.

“We did win our county title that we’ve been trying to win for many years but at the same time we’re just after losing a Leinster final,” he said. 

“it’s hard to separate the two, the county final was whatever 10 weeks ago now. Because this is just raw and disappointing doesn’t even cover it, it’s upsetting. It’s just too raw.”

Like Naas, Kilmacud were missing their main man in Paul Mannion through injury. 

Winning manager Robbie Brennan was pleased to see his team give such a strong performance without the three-time All-Star.

“There probably is a narrative that we can’t win without Paul and we were probably looking at that ourselves to see, ‘Well, let’s see, can we?’” he remarked.

“The last time against Thomas Davis he went off injured and we didn’t win. It was a big test today to see could we. We have this one, it mightn’t be the same the next day but thankfully this one was.

“To be fair I don’t think Naas were overly defensive today and we probably got some opportunities off that,” he added.

Brennan was on the sideline for Kilmacud’s shock Leinster final loss to Mullinalaghta, but he was unsure if this win exorcised those demons.

“I don’t know. I thought it might, the minute the whistle went, but I’m not so sure it did.

“That was a fair old shock to the system a few years ago, albeit deserved as I said before by Mullinalaghta. But that’s special in its own right out there today, yeah.” 


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