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Final dream dies with key men overwhelmed, sighs Joe Kearney

By Declan Bogue

Just as he had all year, Slaughtneil selector John Joe Kearney fulfilled the media duties, with manager Mickey Moran eschewing the spotlight.

Kearney was straight to the point in his assessment.

"Corofin got into top gear and we didn't compete with them," he began.

"We didn't win the battle in midfield, which is a very important sector. They won all the breaks. We had two clean catches in midfield and that is unusual for us. Fair play to Corofin. Well done to them."

On the subject of Christopher Bradley's inclusion, Kearney revealed: "We knew on Friday that he was going to be fit. He got a run-out, got his shoulder tested and it didn't seem to be any trouble. I suppose the fact that he missed three weeks of training might have told on him, but we took that chance."

In the lead-in to this game, the Croke Park factor was mentioned. The answer that Slaughtneil had was that Owenbeg's main pitch was built to the exact dimensions of headquarters, so it shouldn't have been an issue.

However, the ball tends to move a lot faster at Croke Park and the game can feel significantly different. Although Kearney would beg to differ, saying: "(It) wasn't a reason why we didn't perform. As I keep saying, Corofin were the better team. And that's it."

Asked if Corofin did anything that surprised the Slaughtneil management, he answered: "They played more or less as we thought they would - to be honest, we thought we could curtail better than we did. We didn't and there are no excuses."

However, he gave the impression of a man that knew his team did not turn up, explaining: "I think we under-performed. I didn't think the occasion would get to the players, but it looked a bit that way. Players that starred for us in other games, particularly our two wing-half-backs, never attacked the way they did on other days - all over the field, they were problems."

Corofin manager Stephen Rochford had already gone up the steps of the Hogan Stand to collect the Andy Merrigan Cup, back in 2001 as a corner-back for Mayo's Crossmolina Deel Rovers.

After yesterday, he becomes the first ever man to win the cup as a player and a manager with two different clubs, but he played it down.

He said: "It's something I was told about early in the week. It makes very little difference from the point of view of it being the first time ever. The main thing is, I've won it now as a manager and won it as a player - they're two separate emotions but two that are very, very satisfying."

The bedrock of the latest success was the domination at midfield, and he shared: "I think we won nearly all our kickouts in the first 25 minutes. After that first quarter of the game, we started to get Ian Burke, Michael Lundy and Martin Farragher into the game."

And they won with style, which was pleasing.

He said: "We always try to play a fast brand of football, simply because the lads have that skill set. In the modern game, half-back lines and midfields are driving forward; whether you look at it being one team defensive or not, you've got to track, and our attitude to do that was super."

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