See below for reaction from Cork Constitution coach Brian Walsh and Garryowen supremo Paul Cunningham after Saturday’s AIB League Division One final which was won in dramatic fashion by the Limerick men.
BRIAN WALSH (CORK CONSTITUTION) –
“I thought we played the better rugby, but we did make a number of mistakes, particularly in the first half when we didn’t look after the ball well enough. We conceded that last try too easily and we didn’t take full advantage of our kicking opportunities. At the end, it came down to one missed kick (a conversion) and that was particularly cruel I thought.
“We had a great chance to win it at the end with a couple of drop goal attempts and I felt we were extremely unlucky not to get a penalty. A guy came in from the wrong side but the referee just told him get back onside. In that sense, it was disappointing one team had to lose after such an intensive game of rugby with no malice in it.
“I’m not saying we would have kicked the points if we had been given the penalty, but to be denied the opportunity was, to my mind, a very poor decision by the referee.
“I thought our tries were well constructed and they showed that we could be patient in the build-up because Garryowen were so aggressive in defence.
“I just don’t think that we got what we deserved for being so consistent (winning 14 of their 17 AIB League games).”
PAUL CUNNINGHAM (GARRYOWEN) –
“It was like a typical Munster cup final of the past, a decider where two teams put their bodies on the line and adopted a do-or-die attitude from the start. It wasn’t always pretty, but it cranked up as the game progressed. Penalties were missed and penalties were scored. There was a decent crowd, an honest crowd who wanted good honest football and got it from two committed teams.
“I am delighted to have won this trophy, because it came down to the wire, but it would be wrong not to feel for Con. They led going into the last few minutes. This happened to us before, so I know where they are coming from in their disappointment.
“Our captain Paul Neville has had a huge influence on the team this season, and I thought performances of both Mark Melbourne and Peter Malone were top class, but there were some others as well that will remain in the memory. “Like for the try, there were a number of special moments. Once we got possession everyone did their job – even the fatties did their work! Eoghan Hickey did the business with the conversion and late on, when Con made a hugely threatening break, Conor Kilroy brought off a great tackle to save the day for us.
“For the last three or four months, these guys have dogged out results and never given up. The defence in the last 30 seconds was outstanding. Con played really good rugby all day, Denis Hurley at full-back was a beautiful performer, but at the end we wanted it so much not having won it since 1994.”