Hogan lauds his St Rynagh's heroes

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kevin@tullamoretribune.ie

He was smiling from ear to ear after the game but with 15 minutes to go, St Rynagh's manager Ken Hogan's face would have painted a different picture.

Trailing by seven points and staring a Senior Hurling Championship final defeat in the face, his troops turned things around with a masterful and resolute final quarter.

“You can talk about hurling and ability but when it comes to the crunch, it comes down to what is between the ears. You have the heart but you have to believe and be composed.

“We spoke about trust at half time and about belief but the critical thing was that we kept our composure and kept knocking over the points.

“We said we had to trust our instincts and anyone that would accuse St Rynagh’s of not having the bottle to win, the question marks were there but today, they proved that wrong.

“It was a fantastic team display but more importantly, it was a performance that had to be dug out to win, not a hurling performance but a performance of heart, composure and absolute belief in each other.”

The changes made from the sideline along with positional switches all worked out for St Rynagh's as Hogan was still coming to terms with the comeback he had just witnessed.

“I can’t even believe that it was 1-11 to 0-7. It was just one of those days. County finals are like that and Birr and St Rynagh’s takes on a life of its own.

“From our perspective, it was great to get over the line at the end. We kept moving and kept rotating, that’s the modern game that you have now.

“You see the man of the match Stephen Quirke, it was a very tough job for me during the week, unfortunately the tough part of management, to tell Stephen that he wasn’t lining out.

“He came on with the right attitude. He created tremendous openings, created space and got the scores for us.

“Overall, the changes we made, five subs came in, two lads came back on and we switched positions and we had to do that because things weren’t working out for us.

“Birr were on fire and you have to salute them. Their match ups, their tactics. They opened us up in the backline, particularly in the opening 15 minutes. I thought Stephen Wynne did a marvellous job when he went in full back on Morgan Watkins and it shored things up.”

It was a tough encounter. Frees were at a premium and Hogan was not surprised by the tough but fair nature of the game.

“Kieran Dooley (referee) had a great game because both teams wanted to play. It was physical and strong but so honest and that is the hallmark of Birr and St Rynagh’s hurling.

“From a neutral point of view, as an Offaly hurling final, it is up there with one of the best, particularly the second half.”

While Stephen Quirke and Diarmuid Horan will get most of the headlines for their impact, Sean Dolan was a man that was crucial to Rynagh's. He kept them in it while things were going against them and that wasn't lost on Ken Hogan

“Dollars (Sean Dolan) was unbelievable. He started at full forward but went out wing forward on Sean Ryan because Sean was playing so well. He has been great all year and if you were picking a team of the year, Sean Ryan would be one of the first you would be putting into it.

“Dollars scored a few great points too. He is a warrior and has been playing with a groin injury. He was the guy that kept us in the game when we were struggling.”

Now it is onto the Leinster club championship, a championship Hogan was won as a manager with Coolderry back in 2011.

“Looking forward to it and I have great memories of Leinster club hurling. I will get the boys back down to earth.

“The management for me have been tremendous. The manager at this stage probably takes the plaudits but the management team has been great. Eunan Martin, Martin Hanamy and David Hughes, three great Rynagh's men and then Andy Smith our strength and conditioning coach.

“We worked as a group, there was on figurehead and thankfully it paid off in the end.”

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