'We feel we left it behind us' says disappointed Faulkner as Kingscourt draw with Crosserlough in Cavan final thriller
FIFTEEN minutes into Saturday night's Cavan championship final and Kingscourt must have been seeing Stars.
They'd been completely outplayed. The Crosserlough forwards had run their defenders ragged, they'd been taken to the cleaners in midfield and their only score was a Barry Reilly free. 1-5 to 0-1 down (and Crosserlough kicked several wides as well) they knew it was time for them to stand up and be counted and, to their credit, they did so by outscoring the pre-game favourites2-11 to 1-7 over the remaining 45 minutes and establishing a winning position only to be held to a draw by the last kick of the game.
The switch of Padraig Faulkner from full-forward to midfield was instrumental in the Kingscourt revival and, after a cracking game at Kingspan Breffni, the Cavan star admitted: "We feel we left it behind us".
"We knew ourselves that we didn't perform in the first 15 minutes and we had to go out and prove that we deserved to be here and we had a chance," said Faulkner.
"We did ourselves proud just getting back into the game and, by the end of it, either team could have won and we feel that we left it behind us. But we have to get that out of our heads for the replay."
The teams will meet again next Saturday and Kingscourt will need to learn lessons from the draw. First and foremost will be starting with intensity. If they do, they'll fancy their chances.
"I said in the huddle after the game that we'd only be training for the league anyway this week so it'll be another week of training, back to the drawing board and we'll be ready for next weekend again," said Faulkner.
"We have wrongs to right next weekend. We let a lead slip and we didn't play for the first 15 minutes and they are things we can rectify for next week."
Perhaps indulging in a little pre-final shenanigans, Kingscourt manager David Lennon said Faulkner's chances of playing were "80-20" against but the die-hard clubman made a Lazarus-like recovery and, after moving to midfield where he kept tabs on Crosserlough's impressive James Smith, he scored the goal that sparked their thrilling fightback.
"Fair play to the lad that keeps me off the pitch," he said.
"I was struggling a wee bit there and another week will put that right too. They said 80-20, I'm looking forward to being 100 per cent ready."
It was Mark Stuart's nerveless equaliser that enabled Crosserlough to force a draw and defeat would have been hard on them after their first half performance. However, Kingscourt manager Lennon is confident that his side can finish the job in the second meeting.
"I'd like to think that we have the advantage," he said.
"We felt that we didn't play for the first half at all. Crosserlough were very good going forward in the first half, they got too much space for our liking and the players admitted at half-time that they weren't up to the standard and the speed of the game.
"We got Faulkner around the middle and we made a couple of changes. Some nights they work and some nights they don't. Tonight they worked."