Westmeath manager Ryan admits the better team won
By Michael Devlin
Westmeath manager Michael Ryan had no complaints following his side’s five-point Joe McDonagh Cup final defeat at the hands of Carlow.
Goals at either side of halftime gave the Barrowsiders a lead that Westmeath just couldn’t peg back, and Ryan admitted that the better team won on the day.
“Overall from start to finish, we were never really at the pitch of it I thought,” said Ryan after the game. “We missed a few chances early on and it seemed to drain a bit of confidence out of the team.
“Let’s be straight about one thing, the best team won. They’re a serious team, and probably a much better team than people give them credit for. Not alone are they big strong men but they can hurl as well.
“From our point of view, we’re disappointed. We just didn’t do ourselves justice on the day. We felt at halftime we still had a good chance, but in the second half we gave away a bad goal at the start.
“We were always trying to come back, clutching at straws. We didn’t play at anything like our potential, there can be no doubts about that.”
“We had six wides in the first six minutes, and that’s certainly not a recipe to win big matches. That’s what it does, you drive the ball wide continuously and it saps a bit of confidence out of the team, and that’s probably what happened us.
“The lads tried hard, no faulting them, they are a great bunch of lads and they’ve worked hard all year, and the last couple of years. It’s didn’t happen today, but at the end of the day we can look back on it and have no complaints
“When you cross the white lines in Croke Park, you have to perform, and we’re disappointed because we didn’t do ourselves justice.”
A huge turning point in the game came just before halftime, when wing back Aonghus Clarke found himself with time and space inside the opponents’ 14 yard line, only to blast the ball yards over the crossbar. Carlow went down the field in the next attack and hit the net through James Doyle to go into the break ahead.
“It was a huge blow because we had been four points down, and we’d come back right into the game, and I think that point, Aonghus put it over the bar put us ahead and then they went down the field and we gave away a very poor goal.”
The season doesn’t end for Ryan and his team, and his team now have a just a week to lift themselves for an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final with Wexford in Mullingar.
“It’s going to lift the team but we have to do it, there’s no other way around it. Wexford will come to town smarting after defeat to Kilkenny, and they’ll be looking for a big performance to get their season back on track.
“The only consolation is that we’ve always played well in Mullingar against the bigger teams, and hopefully we’ll do it again.”