They passed him in the corridor and slapped him on the back, each player – both red and maroon.
He had put in a performance which merited a victory but offered up only defeat in the end.
Yet Ray Finnegan was calm and clear in his assessment of Louth’s All Ireland Qualifier defeat to Westmeath last Saturday evening.
“You don’t come to forfeit a game,” explained the Pats man.
“You put out fifteen and you go at it and see how you get on. That’s all you can do.”
Much was made of Louth’s troubles ahead of the clash, yet that was never going to wash with a man of Finnegan’s experience.
“There’s no point coming down and thinking you’re going to lose,” he stated.
However, the Wee County had fought superbly to get back into the game with ten minutes left, but that all important goal from Westmeath’s Callum McCormack ultimately sealed Louth’s fate.
“I suppose we had the chances. We had a couple of boys sent off also.
“But I think the goal in the second half killed us. It’s just a pity we couldn’t finish it off though.”
Despite the defeat, Finnegan knows that the spirit displayed by Louth in the second half, with only thirteen men, is something to be proud of.
“We were three points down and we came back at it. It took a great bit of effort to get back into it. “We even had a chance maybe to go ahead, but didn’t take it and they came down the field from out attack and got a goal which killed us.”
Just before that killer goal, Louth had a chance to take the lead, it proved the turning point.
“We were chasing the game all the day when we got the two men sent off, but we got back into it and if we had of gotten that point it might have spurred us on.”
When questioned about the outcome of the match if his side had maintained fifteen men for the duration of the game, Finnegan was philosophical.
“At the end of the day we had a full fifteen, if we had kept a full fifteen on the field it might have made a difference, but on the day it didn’t happen.”
The St Pats man had a good view of the defining incidents in the game – the sending off of Brennan and Clarke.
“I think Mark did lift the hand, I don’t know what connection was made but I suppose when you lift the hand that’s the way it goes. The referee is going to take action.”
“The second one was harsh enough. I thought Darren was trying to block the ball. But obviously the referee saw it differently.”
Ultimately it was a disappointing end to the season for the Reds, but Finnegan was quick to applaud Westmeath, after finally overcoming Louth at the sixth time of asking.
“I suppose it was their time maybe and best of luck to them I hope they do well in the rest of the qualifiers.”
As he walked back to the bus he summed up the feelings of all Louth fans on Saturday afternoon – “well that’s us finished for another year sure.”
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