By John Horgan
HIS voice was choking with emotion, there were tears of joy on his face and why shouldn’t there be, Nicky Kelly had just scored the winning point in an All Ireland final.
“Unbelievable, you dream of playing in Croke Park and then it happens and you end up scoring the winning point, unbelievable.
“It’s the greatest day of my career, to come up here with your friends, the lads you grew up with and be going back down to Cork with an All Ireland trophy.
“It was a tough game, we started slowly but we got ourselves back into it fairly quickly and the goals that we got from the lads Patrick and David were crucial.
“We had a nice lead at half-time, then we got another score but they kept on chipping away at our lead and they eventually caught up with us to draw level.’’ Did he fear the worst when the sides were deadlocked going into stoppage time.
“You just don’t know what is going to happen then but you kept on saying to yourself, please god let us get a winner and we did.
“We knew we needed just the once chance with time almost up and thankfully for me it went over.
“When the final whistle blew it suddenly hits you, you are All Ireland champions, unbelievable for everybody.
“Look, it’s a fantastic effort by everybody concerned with the team. When you set out you can only dream of this kind of thing but for us that dream became reality out there a short while ago.’’ And a word foo for his own family.
“Of course, it’s great for all of them, it’s great for Mayfield as a whole. We had a great management team with us, great supporters too from the whole community and the whole season has just been fantastic.’’ A short distance away, team selector, Martin Cronin was able to reflect on the victory too, one made all the sweeter because he’s a Tipp native getting one over on the arch rival.
“What can I say, it’s out of this world. It was a combined effort out there today, the players, the subs, everybody played their part.
“You don’t win an All Ireland with 15 players, you win one with 30 and more. We tried to be as professional as we could in looking after the team and the players themselves were magnificent.’’ In that team performance he just had to single out the contribution of Nicky Kelly.
“He was outstanding again today for us as he has been all season. We have so many leaders on that team and the Cork senior selectors are just going to have to have a look at him now.
“There is fierce character in this team, there had to be today because they came back at us very strongly there in the closing stages.
“I suppose it makes it all that bit sweeter to win by just a point in the end and beating a team from Kilkenny in doing so’’.
The win brought the curtain down on an almost year long season.
“We started training last February 18th and now we are in February a year later, it’s over a year, it was relentless.
“The hardest job we had today was to pick the team and to have to leave out some fellows.
“But, as I said, it’s been a combined effort by everyone and we as a management team could not have one complaint about these players, they haven fantastic all year.
“And to end it all with four trophies is a fierce achievement but this is the biggest one of them all.
“You’d have to be so proud of them.’’