With the cheers of the Monasterevan players and fans ringing in the background, O’Connell’s full back Conor Byrne was still able to look forward as opposed to backwards, with St Pat’s in the O’Donnell Cup final still to come on Sunday.
“The season’s not over. We’re going to pick ourselves up and we’re going to go hard at the Pat’s. A win today would have been bonus territory for us, but we know the Pat’s game is coming along and just because we lost here, we’re not going to lie down and take a defeat.”
Big games against big teams have become familiar ground for O’Connell’s in 2012 and despite Sunday’s provincial defeat, it’s were the Castlebellingham men want to be, according to Byrne.
“It would have been awful to have finished the season today. At least have more to come now. You always want to go and play the likes of Pat’s and play on big days.”
Byrne admitted that even though they had prepared for the Monasterevan challenge, his side were surprised at Kildare champions all out defensive style.
“The lads did plenty of homework on Monasterevan and we knew they were going to play that way. But even with that we didn’t expect to see what we saw today.
“They really did get every single man behind the ball and to be fair to them it takes a lot of work and a lot of commitment to pull off something like that and they did it outstandingly.”
Some have bemoaned the introduction of Jim McGuinness’ Donegal tactic in GAA this year, but Byrne was not going to begrudge Monasterevan’s dedication and it will take a more detailed analysis to see were exactly O’Connell’s let the title slip away.
“Full credit to them. We struggled to get the ball into our full forwards. We can look at it a number of ways now, but it’ll probably be about two weeks before we understand what really happened.”
Low scoring affair
A remarkably low scoring first half gave way to three quick points in O’Connell’s favour. In the dressing room at half time Byrne and his side knew they could be vital. However, in the end it still wasn’t enough.
“We knew at half time a goal or two or three points could seal up the game. It’s very disappointing, they’re a great team.
“They were very tactical today, you could see that at one stage they had nobody in out half. They just got everybody behind the ball and made life very very difficult.
“There were chances there for us to take and I suppose they missed a good few frees, but it’s just devastating. We’ve had a great run, we really wanted to keep it going, but these things happen in sport.”
But after every Sunday comes training on Tuesday night, and this Tuesday will be no different according to Byrne.
“We’re going to gear up and get back to training on Tuesday and go hard again next week.
“I haven’t played in the senior championship before, so this is what you’re playing for, against the best teams. Even today the result didn’t go with us, but sometimes you get the result and other times you don’t. Hopefully next weekend the result will come our way.”