Fr O'Neill's hero Dalton: I get down to the field to work on my frees every day

Fr O'Neill's hero Dalton: I get down to the field to work on my frees every day
Fr O'Neill's Declan Dalton celebrates a point against Midleton. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE tears were not far from Deccie Dalton’s eyes last Sunday evening as he reflected on Fr O’Neill’s historic victory in an epic Cork County U21 title decider against Midleton.

It was a huge day for his family, his father Robbie had managed the side and the younger fellow spoke of the great support he gets from that family unit.

A 15-point haul illustrated the vast contribution he had made to the victory but it was all about the team effort as he spoke in the aftermath in the fading light of Pairc Ui Rinn.

“We have never been involved in anything like that before. It was a fantastic game from both teams but thank god we had the fitness and the mentality to push forward.

“It wasn’t fair on us playing three games in six days last week. The bodies were sore out there but the boys just kept pushing it on, they kept going at it and my god we have just got out the other side of it.

“This team, there’s a lot more to come and we need to start pushing on now at premier intermediate. Our underage development is very good but we must keep doing it as a unit.’’ 

O’Neill’s were dealt a sucker punch right at the end of regulation time when a deflected Midleton goal brought the game into extra time.

A lesser team might have folded after that but this bunch, according to young Dalton, never gives up.

“That sums us up, that’s our team, that we come back from the dead, we always keep going even if we are losing by 20 points or winning by the same.

“We keep attacking, we keep defending, we are like brothers down here, we are a unit and we are very tight.’’ 

On his own contribution and his excellence and consistency from the placed ball, he just put it down to hard work.

“It’s just down to practice at the end of the day, 20 minutes every day goes a long way. I get down to the field with the lads even when we don’t be training and keep at it.

“Thank God I have a family that supports me and wants me to do well in everything I do. They are with me all the way, it was a special day because I lost my nan last year and this was for her." 

For selector Luke Swayne, it was a very special day too for a former star player.

“Never been involved in anything like that before. We might never be again but they are some team, the effort that they put in there was something, every one of them, we thought we were done when they got the goal in the last minute but they fought back again.

“It’s been fierce demanding, the game against Sars was like that, a great game too. But the heart that these boys have, it will take them a long way.

“Deccie’s frees, young Peter Hassett was outstanding, words cannot describe this feeling that we are now experiencing.

“This is probably one of the best days for the club, we are at the top level of this grade and we have beaten the top teams.

“Hopefully, now we can take it on from here next season and after that too. There was prayers, curses, so much emotion but we got there in the end.’’

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