Coffey left to ponder what might have been

TOM Coffey stood on the pitch in O'Moore Park with his players watching as Kilmacud Crokes' captain Pat Burke triumphantly lifted the Leinster title for the Dublin club for a fourth time.

TOM Coffey stood on the pitch in O'Moore Park with his players watching as Kilmacud Crokes' captain Pat Burke triumphantly lifted the Leinster title for the Dublin club for a fourth time.

The sense of bitter disappointment felt by the players, management and supporters was palpable with more than a few tears being shed by some of the players.

Once the presentations were complete, Tom Coffey paused briefly on his way to the dressing rooms with his devastated players to talk with the media. Not surprisingly, his over-riding emotion was disappointment.

"It's very disappointing. At half-time there was a point in it. We knew we had a lot of work to do in the second-half but at the end of the day things didn't go our way. The penalty didn't go for us, we hit the crossbar and we had one or two other opportunities. But the bottom line is two points in the second-half just wasn't enough."

Even allowing for their lack of scoring in the second-half, Rhode were still in the hunt in the closing stages and they had the chances to force the game to extra-time. The best chance came from the penalty spot but Niall McNamee's effort was saved by David Nestor. Tom Coffey felt that if his side had gotten a break, the result could have been different.

"All we needed was a break. We were under pressure but the game was still there. I think if we got a goal at that stage we would have gone on and won but the luck wasn't with us today."

The Rhode manager said that a number of factors worked against his team.

"We played well in the first-half and held on to possession. There was a bit of ball given away in the second-half but they did come at us and they were very strong on the ball. They are a very big physical team and gradually as the game goes on they will wear you out. But at the end of the day it was nearly but it just didn't happen."

At times Rhode struggled to move the ball out of their backline and on occasion they lost possession close to their own goal and Kilmacud took advantage. Speaking after the game Tom Coffey explained that his side had to try and play the ball out due to the physical nature of the opposition.

"We did give the ball away once or twice at the back but you can't have it every way. If you are up against 15 very physical guys and you just kick it out it's 50-50. We were trying to work it out and it worked most of the time but there were one or two times we got caught but you're not going to get them all perfect.

"We're only a young side and we wouldn't be as physical a side as Kilmacud." It had been so different in the opening exchanges as Rhode had 1-5 on the board inside the opening 18 minutes. While Tom Coffey was happy with the start, he knew the game would have a number of twists and turns.

"We were flying at that stage but again we knew the game would take different courses and that it would be tight. We knew it would come down to the last ten minutes and it did. If the penalty had gone in we probably would have won but it didn't and in the end it just wasn't our day."

This game was originally due to played in December. While the original fixture fell foul of the weather, it could have been played in late December however the Leinster Council chose to put the game back to January. Tom Coffey was adamant that the delay had not hindered his team, he was forthright in his views on what he thought of the decision and it's effect on players.

"No most definitely not. We were very disappointed at the time and I think it's wrong of the GAA that they try and catch out Senior Inter-County teams training in December but ask the likes of a village like Rhode or Kilmacud to play and train all during December for a Leinster Final.

There's no consistency in what them people are trying to do. What I would say is that our preparation has been 100%. Them guys today died for the cause. We took two days off over Christmas. It was nothing to do with attitude or commitment coming in here today. We actually reckon we gained ground but as I said, if we had that bit of luck or had taken our scores today, it might have been different."