Strength in-depth in the panel played a huge part in Dicksboro winning their sixth under-21 Roinn A hurling championship title.
“That was a very good win bearing in mind we were playing with 14 men for three quarters of the game,” suggested Dicksboro selector, Simon Walton afterwards.
“We were worried when we had the man dismissed, but in fairness to the lads they regrouped and fought as hard as they possibly could. I think we had the edge a little bit in fitness over Thomastown.”
Thomastown opened well and were a mere 0-3 to 0-4 behind playing against the breeze when the opposition had a player dismissed in the 16th minute.
However, the winners simply drove on, upped the tempo and when they scored three quick goals nearing the break the Southerners were in serious trouble.
“We had to dig deep into our panel during the championship, and in the final too,” insisted Mr Walton. “Stephen Farrell was missing with a shoulder injury. He came on today and made a huge difference. Kevin Kenny has been carrying an injury.
“Likewise Robbie Fitzpatrick, who only lasted a few minutes today, and a few others. It was never easy. It was the strength of the panel that won us the title.
“During the championship we used 22 players or so. They all made a huge contribution, and all can feel a real part of the success.”
The new champions learned “one important thing” during the drawn game a week earlier. It was that they had the edge in fitness after a testing campaign.
“When we were down to 14 we just took them on, took them on, took them on at every opportunity,” Mr Walton continued. “That was the name of the game. The players kept possession well and used the ball intelligently.
“We wanted to stretch their defence by keeping the game fast and open. What can we say now? It has been a great campaign. The team improved all the time. It is a young team really.
“There is no guarantee with any group, but the players applied themselves very well since the start of November. We have had a hard run. We played the Fenians (Johnstown) in the first round. Then we had a draw and replay against Clara before facing a very good and confidence Bennettsbridge in the Northern final.
“The county final then went to another replay. I suppose after having the title almost won last week and then giving it away, to charge on again and lift themselves wasn’t easy for the players. We knew it would be difficult last week after beating Bennettsbridge and playing so well.
“It was going to be hard to get to that level again in the next match. Goals are key. We got the goals. In the end the goals were the difference.”
Dicksboro team manager, Ger Henderson, missed the replay. He has work commitments in San Francisco, and flew out after the drawn match.
“We were very disappointed for Ger that he couldn’t be here,” Mr Walton continued. “He put a huge amount of work into the job. It was unfortunate, but the fact we were able to ring him with good news was something.”
Thomastown selector, Paul Treacy, felt a lot of things went against them on the day.
“We made a lot of errors,” he felt. “The players are gutted. So are the selectors. We didn’t see this coming. When the sending off came I thought we were well in it.
“We have no excuses. We had an extra man playing with the breeze in the second half. We were too far down at half time it was almost impossible to get back.
“The three goals we conceded before the break hurt us. Good teams like Dicksboro don’t let you back into a match. It will take a while to get over this.”
He felt it was a great effort by a relatively young team to get to the final, and to force the issue to a replay.
“I felt last week that we needed a game, and we were glad to just hang in in that one,” he admitted. “I really felt this week we were spot on, but it wasn’t to be.
”We have to hand it to Dicksboro. They are a fair outfit, and we congratulate them.”