By a Kevin Herron
St Galls Hurling captain Joe McDaniel insists that the big positive to take in the aftermath of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Oranmore is that they have Division One Hurling to look forward to in the season ahead.
McDaniel recounts a heavy opening day league defeat and the hands of Armoy and believes the players would have bitten somebody’s hand off, if they had suggested winning Ulster and getting to an All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park was possible.
The St Galls captain rued his sides failure to land a second-half goal with the game in the balance on Sunday and felt that any momentum was killed by the stop start nature of the game.
“The positives are we’ve division one Hurling to look forward to this year” McDaniel insists.
“If you had have asked us in the beginning of the year after we were beaten by Armoy in our first league game by about thirty points – if you’d have spoke to us after and told us we would have won Ulster and had a chance of an All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park we would have thought you’d be pulling our leg, but also we’d have bitten your hand off for it”.
“We never really got going – we said to the boys before the game if we were two or three points within them at half-time then we’d be happy and we’d make a fight for it in the last fifteen. We came out and they got the goal through a mistake – maybe that’s what we needed to get ourselves going, a goal at that stage. We never really got going to be honest.”
St Galls will also rue the failure to make use of a numerical advantage afforded to them for almost two thirds of the game – following a red-card issued to Oranmore corner-back Alan Bannon.
McDaniel was of the opinion that Oranmore coped well with the dismissal and praised the Galway sides physicality as they prevented St Galls building from defence.
“To be honest, when I said I would have been happy to come in two or three down at half-time – I was actually disappointed we hit seven wides in the first-half” reflected McDaniel.
“We should have been at least two or three up and it would have gave us a real platform to go on in the second-half and Oranmore might have panicked. If you had have came into the game late after half-time and asked who had the extra man? You wouldn’t have been able to tell”.
“They coped with it very well, they were well drilled. We struggled to find the extra-man and they were a big physical team – when we got the ball in defence they tied us up well and made it very difficult for us to get the ball into our forwards. We usually like to play the ball out of defence – we didn’t get the option to do that today”.
Another statistic that St Galls will reflect upon is the fact that only 1-04 of Oranmore’s 1-13 came from play.
Niall Burke top scored for the Galway men with 0-11 and 0-10 coming from the placed ball. McDaniel felt that his side gave away some soft fouls over the course of the sixty minutes which helped Oranmore, but admitted that his sides four point total up until their injury-time goals would not have been enough.
“If you told me today that they’d only score 1-04 from play – I would say we’d win that game” admitted McDaniel.
“I would say our lads are disciplined in the tackle – one big thing we preach is don’t be tackling with the stick, no slapping, tackle with the hands – that’s a skill we probably learn from football. Again being overly critical – I think we gave away some soft fouls, even still; you can’t be giving away the amount of frees we did and expect to win a game. Nor can you score four points and expect to win a game either”.