By Denis J. Croke
AT the best of times it is difficult to watch a team you have trained all year, and who have put in such a huge effort, make their exit from any competition. And when that competition is at the semi-final stage and you lost out to two scores in the second period of extra time it can be heartbreaking.
That must surely have been how Rosenallis manager Declan Rooney must have felt in Ratoath on Saturday afternoon, but he was even looking at that scenario. All he saw was how gallantly his charges had battled, had fought fatigue to push the host team to the very end.
“We couldn’t be any prouder of those bunch of lads in there. They gave everything the had from the start of the year until now. And I have no doubt they will buckle down now and head to Edinburgh at the weekend and try to the All-Ireland quarter-final and head for Croke Park early next year,” he said.
“The extra football games probably took its toll at the end. We’ve been playing for the last seven or eight weeks in a row and when the game went to extra time the legs probably gave in a little bit.”
Declan would have had every right to be critical of a referee after what looked like numerous fouls did not go their way, but that was not a route Declan was prepared to go down.
“Look, you could argue the point that they seemed to be getting a few softer frees than us but we’re not going to blame the referee. You just play the game as it stands and you move on, that’s how it is,” he said.
Behind the disappointment was the knowledge that this has been a super year for Rosenallis GAA club and the area in general. They won the intermediate and minor B football and the junior hurling championships, and several of their girls were part of the O’Moore’s camogie team to capture their first senior title while others were on the all conquering Sarsfields ladies football team.
“Our parish has had a super year and it has brought out people we haven’t seen in a long time and this year will never be forgotten in the history of the GAA in Rosenallis,” said Declan.
“We have a great pitch but we hope to develop it further next year and the people have put their hands in their pockets and that’s the way it is, it’s a community effort. The work that has been done over the past seven or eight years is pay fruit now and there is a lot of credit for those fellows who have been working behind the scenes.”
Looking to the future, more immediately the All-Ireland football quarter-final on Saturday, and further down the road, Declan is hopeful the club can continue to progress.
“We had it in the back of our minds that we were the last Laois team standing. I know the lads will now pick themselves up and will go to Edinburgh and if they over that they will have a right crack at the All-Ireland.
“Now if the boys can stick around and we can get a few jobs for them and hold the team together because they are young, is what we’d want. We are dealing with a small panel of players and if we lose any of them they will be a huge loss.”