By John Harrington
Today’s AIB All-Ireland Club Football Final win was a redemptive one for Kilmacud Crokes goalkeeper, Conor Ferris.
He produced a brilliant injury-time save to deny Glen what would have been a match-winning goal, and in the process made amends for the decisive injury-time goal he conceded in last year’s Final against Kilcoo.
His intercepted clearance led to that goal, so he took it very personally. To be the hero this time around was a very sweet moment for the goalkeeper
“Yeah, from a personal point of view, I came off very hurt last year,” said Ferris after the match. “It’s just great to do it. It’s almost like a redemption.
“Last year was one of the toughest days I’ve had ever. I said to Robbie (Kilmacud manager Robbie Brennan) once, I think it was a couple of months later, ‘where is my silver medal, I want to keep that and put it on the mantelpiece so I see it every day and have the motivation to come back and go one further than last year.’
“If you were talking to anyone, they’ll say the last five minutes of last year was in our minds coming up to the end. Two points up, it’s a dangerous lead. I’m still coming back down to earth. I’m over the moon. It’s a very hard thing to come back and win one.”
Ferris’s save from Conor Glass’s late sidefooted shot was of the very highest calibre, and he wasn’t quite sure himself how he did it.
“I don’t really know what happened. I watched it back once. One of our defenders was to the left so the only place he could go was to the right. I kind of just jumped and hoped for the best.
“Thank God it went around the right side of the post. I couldn’t have told you who shot, who it hit off. Just so delighted it went the right way around the post.
"They had three or four chances but we had a good scramble back.”
Kilmacud Crokes manager, Robbie Brennan, wasn’t surprised that Ferris was the hero of the hour. In fact, he predicted that’s exactly what would transpire.
“I told the lads at the team meeting on Thursday that Conor would win us the All-Ireland,” said Brennan.
“I said it at half-time again, Conor would win us the All-Ireland. I knew because Glen would go after goals probably in order to beat us. I was aware of his ability, that he’s a brilliant shot-stopper would come into play. When they were getting through I still backed him. I even thought he might save the first one in the first minute, he’s that good.”
For Brennan, this win was all the sweeter because they last year’s Final ended in such heartache.
“That’s one of the proudest things,” he said. “We said on Thursday that probably and possibly last year should have broken us, realistically. Not that we lost but how we lost. It should have broken us as a group and management but it didn’t.
“We took a bit of strength from that as it went on through the weeks and months, as the championship started building. It’s such fine margins. We could be sitting here having lost again. I don’t know what we’d be saying if that was the case.
“Conor mentions his runners’ up medal. We had it there at half-time. It’s sitting in my house for the last year. I was wondering when to pull them out. I basically did the old Joe Kernan, hopped them off the wall at half-time and said, 'if you want them you can take them'."