A delighted Eoghan Rua manager Pádraig Ó Miánain was clearly elated at the final whistle as his side made it through to the All Ireland final.
However, he was as relieved as he was delighted to comment on the successful hour and a bit that his charges had just come through in Ballyshannon to see off Sylane.
“Mainly relief I suppose, you know when you come to a semi-final it’s like that,” he said.
“We thought we had prepared well but in the first half I felt we weren’t at ourselves you know, snatching a bit, doing things we wouldn’t normally do.
“But I suppose that was the pressure of the situation, they’re a very fit side, very strong physically.
“We spoke at half time in the dressing room there before we came out, we would keep the same work rate and try and cut out some of the basic errors.
“I thought we dominated there in the second half although they did miss a few decent chances but gradually we got the feeling we were getting the upper hand.
“They were playing two sweepers but that suited us as we could afford to drop a man back.
“All in all you couldn’t ask more of the lads in these conditions, the number of turnovers, the work rate, the application, the bravery it shows great heart, just tremendous.”
Four each at half time it certainly did not look like we were in for anything other than another tight half an hour of hurling but that’s not the way it turned out, Sylane failed to raise another flag while Eoghan Rua added six unananswered points.
It was suggested that Eoghan Rua would have been happy enough being level having played against a stiffish breeze in the first half.
“Yeah we were happy in a sense because we felt we could play better,” said Ó Mianain.
“We have good hurlers in this team but I felt we had maybe made some bad decisions in the first half, dropping balls, mishitting a few, we felt if we could iron out those issues, raise our skills performance and keep the same hard work and energy levels - we know the boys are very fit - thank god that’s more or less how it transpired.
Ó Mianain readily agreed keeping Sylane scoreless throughout the entire second half was a huge defensive performance.
“They did miss a few chances, they had one from a close in free right at the start of the second half they missed, on another day those might have gone over and it would be a different game,” he said.
“That’s something we’ll have to look at over the next couple of weeks, we’ve plenty to work on for the final. When the pressure was on there at times in the second half we had our experienced men, strong men there well able to hold them out, there was no panic, we just ground them out in the end.”
A final in Croke Park is something that will pass most clubs by but this will be the third time a team from Eghan Rua will have that experience.
“Well I suppose it is a dream for the club but for us as a team we want to win in Croke Park,” Ó Mianain said.
“The way we’ll be approaching this, its another game like today, we will be focusing on whatever happens inside the white lines, we’ll try and minimise the distractions but look we will enjoy the next two weeks but we have a job of work to do, from around Tuesday on its back to basics and preparing for the final.”
This has been a really long journey for the long standing Eoghan Rua manager. He has coached most of these players from nearly the first time they have taken a hurl into their hands and so it was just a little emotional when it was suggested that this, a trip to Croke Park for an All-Ireland final made it all worthwhile, a one word summed it up. ‘Brilliant’.