NEWMARKET selector Donal O’Sullivan paid tribute to the players’ steely resolve in turning defeat into a stunning victory in the Bon Secours county PIFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
They trailed Kanturk by 0-11 to 0-9 entering injury-time, when Newmarket rattled off three quick-fire points to deny their neighbours a hurling and football double.
“To win it in the way we did, words can’t describe that. Kanturk are a formidable outfit and while it’s huge for us to win the way we did, it’s an awful way to lose as well and they have to be in our thoughts,” he told.
“But the way our lads really put their shoulders to the wheel, we were down two points with maybe a minute to go and the level of effort they put in to snatch that at the end was unbelievable.
“I’m so proud of them, you have no idea. I can’t speak highly enough of the drive and guts they have.
“I think we’re missing six lads from last year’s starting team. They never let their heads drop though there was injury after injury and blow after blow.
“Every time I met them in training there was deeper resolve every time we lost someone. You could see it in their eyes: 'ok, there’s someone else gone, we have to work harder'.
“And that’s what they did. They kept working until the 64th minute today and I’m so glad they got their just rewards. They deserve it so much.”
O’Sullivan also praised the contribution of coach Niall McIntyre, who along with Paul Murphy, completes the management team.
“I have to compliment Niall because he has these boys hopping fit. Even going into injury time the pace at which they were moving the ball was unbelievable.
“It was probably as fast as we were moving the ball in the first half, but they dug something down out of the pit of their bellies.
“I don’t know where they got it, but we got exceptional scores in the last five minutes. That’s down to how fit Niall has them.”
After scoring eight points in the first half to lead by two at the interval, Newmarket’s scoring dried up as they went 20 minutes on the resumption without adding to their tally.
“It was something we discussed and while we kept making changes, they just weren’t coming.
“We dropped three or four short and dropped three or four into the goalkeeper’s hands in the first half, as well.
“We chatted to them about it but we kept putting them wide or dropping them short. They came at the right time, thank God.”
O’Sullivan also believed the title was still there for Newmarket coming down the stretch. “I didn’t believe it was gone.
“There are such leaders on the field, guys across the team, who were with us in 2011 when we won it, and it’s never gone when those guys are leading it. They won’t lie down.”