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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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A Leinster senior title slips away in a dramatic finish - 'The players inside are shell-shocked'

Defeat was tough to take for St Loman’s in Portlaoise yesterday.

St Loman's manager Luke Dempsey.
St Loman's manager Luke Dempsey.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE FLIPSIDE TO the Moorefield euphoria in Portlaoise yesterday was the shock in the disconsolate St Loman’s camp.

As Moorefield wrapped their heads around the improbable revival that delivered a Leinster title for them, St Loman’s were trying to figure out how this match slipped from their grasp.

It won’t be an easy defeat to digest. The pain of this will linger.

The Mullingar club were on the cusp of claiming a first Leinster senior football crown in their first Leinster final appearance. A stirring second-half showing saw them turn a three-point interval deficit into a six-point advantage on the scoreboard.

And yet they lost control at a critical juncture when the game was there to be closed out.

Manager Luke Dempsey is an experienced operator but trying to comprehend this defeat was difficult.

“The players inside are shell-shocked. I suppose I’m shell-shocked myself. It was the last few minutes of the match, like any sporting occasion, you have no control from the sideline – we had players coming off and being sent off.

“We ran in subs as we thought but ultimately it was probably James Murray, who had a magnificent game all day, he nipped in to a wayward pass and that set up Ronan Sweeney, who was also magnificent.

“As in any sport, if you get a goal that late you have the momentum. And then when I saw there were to be five minutes of injury-time, I thought ‘this is going to go to the wire’ which it did. Moorefield have that never say die attitude, they’ve had it all year – 13 against 15 in the county final.

“That’s really all I can say, it’s disappointing because we did play very well in the second half. I thought when we got the second goal I thought really and truly there was only going to be one winner.

“But you don’t allow for David Whelan, who is one of our better backs, and Paul Sharry coming off the field in those last five minutes and that was a contributing factor.”

St. Loman's teamshot 17/12/2017 The St Loman's players line up before the match. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

This group of St Loman’s players have achieved some major milestones in the club’s history. They ended the half a century wait for a county senior title in 2013 before following it up by reigning for the last three seasons in Westmeath.

Succeeding in Leinster would have been a significant step as Garrycastle in 2011 are the only Westmeath club to have won this championship.

“Some players in there are in their mid 30s,” stated Dempsey.

“They have to make their minds up as to what they want to do. They’re great lads.

“It’s beyond our expectations to get to a Leinster final and we’ve done that and we’ve played so well. The reason why we’re shellshocked is, we had it won and we didn’t win.

“There is often times as a manager and you have a sense that no matter what you do on the sideline it is going away from you. This was one of them, unfortunately.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

‘There were times when he left us with tears in our eyes’ – injury forces leading Tipp defender to retire

‘It looked dead and buried’ – Moorefield boss lauds his players after miraculous Leinster final revival

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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