They say that sport mirrors life.The discipline, drama, hard work, ritual, sacrifice, strategy, the winning and losing in sport are all part of the human experience.
Many of the above components were evident over the 88 minutes played tonight that it took to separate us from our town rivals and at the end of the day, it was the newest senior club in town who survived.
Someone had to lose but for sheer endeavour, honesty, skill and integrity we lost nothing in defeat.
We opened attacking the Mitchels end and the slight breeze to our backs and led by 3 points to 1 after just 4 minutes with Conor Hayes notching 2 from play and Jack knocking over a long range free.
Na Gaeil had levelled matters by the 6th minute but we were gradually gaining the upper hand with David and Tom edging midfield and our defence solid and raised white flags via Jack from play and a free either side of a fine Barry John score after good work by Darragh and Conor.
Na Gaeil reduced the deficit to one by the 22nd minute but we had the final say before the short whistle with good scores from Barry John and Jake who made a great break through the middle and fired over.
In the lead up to half time, Shane Foley proved his worth between the sticks when making a great save from the inrushing Dan Goggin and so we retired at half time, 3 points to the good, 0-08 to 0-05.
We continued in the ascendancy on the resumption but had two wides before Na Gaeil again reduced the deficit to the minimum by the 7th minute.
Jack, again from a free, pushed us two ahead and by the 42nd minute we had increased our lead to 3, 0-11 to 0-08 following good scores from Jack ( 2) and the raiding Cormac who squeezed his shot inside the post.
Our scores began to dry up however but defending stoutly we held the opposition to 3 points in a 13 minute period, although this tied the scores by the 55th minute at 0-11 each - we had 3 wides in this crucial period before substitute Shane McElligott looked like he might have settled matters with a fisted point on the 58th minute - Na Gaeil were not to be denied however and wing back Morgan Madden fashioned an equaliser minutes later - despite 4 added minutes the sides remained locked at 0-12 each and extra time ensued.
Na Gaeil started the brighter and registered two points in the first half of extra time but we responded each time via Jack and the scores were again tied at 0-15 each; Na Gaeil edged ahead again only for Jack to level matters once again with another free.
With the clock ticking down, it looked like that maybe there would be another day but a driving run from Diarmuid O’Connor led to a 20 metre free which was duly converted by sub Dara Devine.
There was still one last chance however and we piled forward in droves but an unfortunate turnover 50 yards from goal decided the issue once and for all with Na Gaeil nabbing the only goal of the game.
We have much to be thankful for from this great bunch of lads, many of whom have worn the senior jersey across 3 decades - they have given us some wonderful days,occasions to savour , never to be forgotten memories and a pride in our club and community.
The sight of players shedding tears tonight in the aftermath of the game tells you where their hearts lie.
There is one team relegated annually from senior level - that this happens whilst we are reigning Munster senior club champions is quite frankly farcical when the club has given so much down through the years and invested so much in player development.
Paul Fitzmaurice, bainisteoir of Na Gaeil was forthright in his after match comments ( Irish Independent):
“ “I think it’s an absolute disgrace that after that performance today, that effort, everything they invested in not just this year but every year, that [O’Rahillys] are gone from the county championship, an established club. And there are districts that won no game in the county championship this year, and one district gathered points from a walkover from another [district] and that all those teams can play uncontested, unquestioned in a county championship next year is wrong.”
Shane Foley, Jake Foley 0-1, Shane Brosnan, Ross O’Callaghan, Cormac Coffey 0-1, Con Barrett, Ben Hanafin, David Moran 0-1, Tom Hoare, Gearoid Savage, Jack Savage 0-8 (7f), Barry John Keane 0-2, Darragh O’Connor, Tommy Walsh, Conor Hayes- 0-2. Subs: Donagh Buckley for R O’Callaghan (41), Shane McElligott 0-1 for D O’Connor (44), Diarmuid O’Sullivan for T Walsh (48), Ryan Carroll for B Hanafin (52), B Hanafin for G Savage (et, 60), Darragh McElligott for J Foley (et, 68),