By Larry Cooney
It will come as little consolation to Dunedin Connolly’s but Red Hugh’s manager Seosamh Mac Ceallabhui admitted that it’s the Edinburgh side who should now be looking forward to an All-Ireland semi-final.
For the second consecutive year Britain’s three-in-a-row provincial champions bowed out to Donegal opposition, as they went down 3-11 to 1-15 in a thrilling Club JFC quarter-final on Sunday.
It was a game which needed extra-time to separate the sides after Connolly’s had fought back twice from a six-point deficit to force an additional period.
“I am an extremely relieved man because the best team lost today,” Mac Ceallabhui told the Irish World after Sunday’s clash in Letterkenny.
“They were the best team after half-time and we got two goals against the run of play.”
While Red Hugh’s now meet Connacht champions Easley from Sligo in the All-Ireland Club semi-finals, Connolly’s must lift themselves to start all over again as they target a fourth consecutive All-Britain title.
“We leave here with our heads held high and we can get better and learn from this latest set-back. We will bounce back,” said Dunedin Connolly’s Aldo Matassa.
Connolly’s selector and player, Alan Ward, added: “The look on the players’ faces will tell you how disappointed everyone is after the way the team worked so hard to get themselves into a winning position.
“But we paid a heavy price for a slow start and not making the most of our opportunities. It was not to be in our 30th year.”
A club stalwart of 15 years, however, Ward said that 2018 will still go down as a “great year” for Connolly’s, with its ladies’ team making it a provincial double.
“Today’s set-back will make us even more determined to bounce back and complete a four-in-a-row of provincial titles next year, because it will be much the same team,” he added.