A 10-POINT second-half turnaround saw Castlelyons get their PIHC campaign off to a winning start at Ballynoe on Saturday evening, with coach Johnny Crowley praising his team’s effort after half-time.
Having been 1-8 to 0-9 behind at half-time, a pair of goals from David Morrisson and Alan Fenton just after the three-quarter mark turned the game their way. Crowley felt that the team worked harder in the second period.
“I’m happy with the second half,” he said.
“I suppose, at half-time, we hadn’t played and we were two points down. We told them that we trusted them and to just go out and hurl and absolutely up the work-rate, which they did.
“I think our work-rate exceeded our talent in the second half, which was vital. Our work-rate in the first half was just not good enough, but we spoke about it at half-time, there was no massive roaring and shouting, we just talked and said we needed to get it to a certain level.
“Our talent was there but we needed to match it with our work-rate and we exceeded our talent, which was brilliant.”
What made the turnaround all the more impressive was that it came after they had lost corner-forward James Kearney to a red card. While feeling that his player was unfortunate, Crowley believed that others stepped up in the wake of that.
“I think he was unlucky,” he said.
“He’s just a young lad, he’s doing his Leaving Cert, he’s a great little talent and he got a couple of points before he went off. Maybe it could have been let go, but it is what it is.
“The most encouraging thing was that, when he did go, we showed we have great leaders. Niall [O’Leary] stood up, Anto [Anthony Spillane] stood up, Alan [Fenton] stood up, Barry Murphy was immense in the middle of the park, the two wing-backs were outstanding, we just drove on from there.
“We’ll enjoy this now. We’ll take a break for a while and start up in June and see where we’re going.”
As well as the goal of championship glory, PIHC teams have the carrot of trying to be in the new senior A grade next year. However, good displays will ensure that that takes care of itself.
“I think, at the end of the day, most teams are just going out to get the first-round win,” Crowley said.
“It’s a big carrot to get the win and know that you’re not going to be playing until August. If you lose, you could get a game in July sprung upon you and you’re not really prepared.
“We know now exactly where we are so we can prepare in tandem with that and we’re delighted.”