Sometimes it's easy in this game. The themes are already there, the storylines tramline into one easy question to ask the victor; ‘how did you pull it off?'
James McCartan, he of the cheeky-chappy persona was a shaken-looking figure at the end of this drama. He rubbed his face and composed himself as a coterie of reporters surrounded him moments after the whistle.
“I'm drained, I'm drained,” he said. “My initial reaction is that we were more than disappointing in the first half. Very disappointed with the way we played. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, made it very, very difficult for ourselves.”
It was an understatement. Down were dead and buried and the only thing to do was put a notice in the local paper. Some kind of alchemy must have occurred in the half-time dressing room, but McCartan wasn't sharing with us.
“I don't remember (what I said)!
“ To be honest, we hadn't got an awful lot of experience on the bench to do a lot of tweaking with and we sort of put the gun to the guys' heads. We have belief in them, we believe them to be good footballers and too many times in the past, Down teams were filled with good footballers but weren't getting enough break ball or dirty ball. I suppose I sort of threw the gauntlet down and I played on a lot of those good teams.”
Opportunity sometimes comes disguised as hard work, and that's what makes it so hard to recognise. It was clear that Down needed to get their hands dirty, said McCartan|(pictured). “I just asked them to go out and put their bodies on the line in the second half and if it turned out to be enough, grand, if it didn't, we just wanted to put a wee bit of pride back in the jersey. At half-time it was an all-too familiar feeling that I had through the late '90s and early 2000s, I just didn't want those guys to have to experience that again.
“Look, some of the young guys on the team had no fear, and they came out and we played the football in the second half that we felt we were capable of. You can't expect to do it after 35 minutes and expect to win anything.”
He continued, “Even though we were working off scraps I still felt we could have sneaked a couple of goals. The penalty probably was the changing of the game. It gave us a lifeline. Nine points is an awful long way to come back from and I think the penalty made it six, which was a platform for us in the second half.”
As ever, the subject of the poor old referee is brought up. Someday we will learn not to ask managers about an independent judge of something that they pour their entire leisure time into working towards, but until then, we let them say their piece.
“Felt some of the decisions in the second half didn't go our way,” said McCartan, who was as ever an engaged figure on the touchline. “I'll leave some of the others to comment on them, but when you're along the line it's hard to be objective. If I turn out to be wrong on them I'll be big enough to say it, but I just felt that a lot of them were going against us, and maybe that's just, as I say you haven't the proper perspective along the line.”
And what of the substitutions that McCartan made. Duffin, Doyle and Coulter all scored crucial points, so surely that is a measure of his foresight and acumen? In any case, the Down coach is not selfishly taking the plaudits, noting that one any other day, the same switches could crucify him.
“It doesn't work like that all the time as we know, putting Benny in... Benny hadn't even trained with the team, we played 15 minutes of a club game on the Friday night and it was obviously a huge gamble. If a gamble turns out to be right it's inspirational, if it turns out to be wrong, it's a sign of desperation.
“To be honest we didn't give him maybe too many minutes, he only got about eight minutes on the field and he still came up trumps for us. That's Benny Coulter for you, hard to keep a good man down.”
Indeed. The boys in red and black are back.