BY DENIS HURLEY
MARK Cronin, the Gabriel Rangers captain, admitted that Glenbeigh-Glencar’s pair of goals coming up to half-time made a tough task almost impossible.
In the Munster Club JFC final at Mallow on Sunday, Gabriels conceded twice in the ten minutes before half-time, meaning that they went in at the interval trailing by 2-7 to 0-5. With the Kerry side extending that lead in the second half, the Ballydehob/Schull side’s winning run didn’t look like being extended. That said, Cronin preferred to focus on the positives.
‘On the day, it was very disappointing,’ he said.
‘We knew that we were underdogs today and up against a great team, we gave it our best and it wasn’t good enough.
‘I’m delighted, so proud of all the players, management, supporters. We’re in a Munster final, these days don’t come around too often, so we’re very proud of everyone.’
Going in as outsiders – Glenbeigh-Glencar play in Division 1 in the Kerry league and the junior championship is the third tier in the Kingdom whereas it is the fourth in Cork – Gabriels needed to get a good start but unfortunately the dangerous full-forward line of Cronin, Eddie Goggin and Seán Kelleher couldn’t be serviced and instead Glenbeigh-Glencar struck when the opportunities presented themselves.
‘That was the plan, to be there at half-time, but the early goals killed us,’ Cronin said.
‘We’re a second-half team, so it was kind of hard. They’re a great team, they’ve great talent, I wish them the best of luck in the All-Ireland, I reckon they’ll go all the way.’
Of course, the primary objective of intermediate football was achieved and, to that end, this defeat will hopefully prove educational in dealing with that step up in quality in 2017. Cronin acknowledged that the lessons will be put to good use.
‘When you’re up against better teams, you need to be a bit cuter and keep the ball,’ he said.
‘We missed a lot of chances, shooting from impossible angles and things. We’ll be a bit smarter next year playing at a higher level.’
When they do take to the field next year they will be backed by the same loyal band of supporters who formed a large part of the attendance of 3,118 in Mallow. Cronin couldn’t speak highly enough of the backing given to the team, even in defeat.
‘All year, our support has been unbelievable, through West Cork and the county,’ he said.
‘You go back to Baile Bhúirne (Gabriels beat Knocknagree in the county semi-final after a replay), we were down five or six points and the crowd got behind us and that’s the reason we were here.
‘They’re the best, we owe it to them.’