THE ROSCOMMON players, management and fans mingled on the pitch in the Gaelic Grounds as the presentation took place. In the centre of the Roscommon contingent was the man who has guided the county minor hurlers to two successive All-Ireland finals.
Mike Kilcline spoke with clarity and dignity his thoughts are for his players whom he knows didn’t do themselves justice. “We were comprehensively beaten, it was one of those days.
I’m hugely disappointed for the players because they didn’t play to their potential. The players are better than that. Even on a very good day we probably wouldn’t have won but we’d have been a lot closer,” the St. Dominic’s clubman acknowledged.
“We had our research done on Kerry. We played them at U-16 and they beat us by six or seven points that time. They have improved in the last two years. They have bulked up and brought in new players and their physicality told. Kerry took the game to us from the off,” he remarked.
“They were skilful and clinical but it’s easy to play well when you’re well ahead. When a team are ahead like that, they try things and they come off. We were trying things but they were going wrong,” Kilcline maintained.
“They had competitive games early in the year and it showed. Playing in the Munster league brought on Kerry in terms of pace, skill and physique. Competitive games would bring us on. It would get our hurlers used to playing at proper pace and it would bring the panel together earlier. It was discussed for a number of years but it hasn’t happened,” he noted.
“This year’s panel has been together since April but our first match was in early August. Meath and Kildare were on Kerry’s side of the draw and they had sterner tests than us. You don’t know where you are until you hit a good team,” the manager emphasised.
“We had a false readingg of where we were and that is why you need to be playing games a level above you. The Ulster league is an option, the Galway league would be an option to explore or playing divisional sides from Galway. That would have to come from Connacht Council Games Development,” he outlined.
The manager went on to say that the end result was “very unfair” on his players. “The lads didn’t play well but the match didn’t reflect the effort they put in. I know the work they’ve put in and I’m disappointed for them. I said in the build-up that we had a better balanced team than last year but we lacked a few leaders that we had last year,” Mike commented.
“We didn’t have the spread of players to trouble their defence and Kerry concentrated on a few of our forwards and that was a factor in the game. I congratulate Kerry on their win, they’re a fine side. I was speaking to the Kerry officials and this is one of the best sides they’ve had in years,” he explained.
Kilcline urged his players to try to bounce back from the defeat and intends to stay involved himself. “We’re all hurling people and we’ll keep working. I’d like to stay involved at some level. Every team have good days and bad days. Look at what happened to Waterford in the 2008 All-Ireland final. They didn’t drift away and instead started again.
“The lads will bounce back. They’ll be disappointed for a few days but these players are mentally adept and tough. I would like to thank all the supporters who came to the game, they made it a big day,” Mike concluded.