SHANE O’Neill revealed he was confident ahead of extra-time in Na Piarsaigh’s All-Ireland semi-final – despite the fact his side lost a late four point lead.
Leading 1-13 to 0-12 with just over 10 minutes to play, Oulart-The Ballagh fought hard to force extra-time. However, a strong showing in the extra 20 minutes saw the city club outscore the Wexford champions 0-9 to 0-4 to secure an All-Ireland final berth.
“I said to the boys after full-time that if I was told before the match we were going to go extra-time that I felt that we would get there in extra-time and that’s what happened,” O’Neill said after the game.
While Na Piarsaigh have gained a reputation for being a second half team it was the Wexford champions who finished stronger at the end of 60 minutes.
“Oulart had all the momentum in the last 10 or 15 minutes, they showed how mentally strong they are.
“It was an unbelievable show in the last 15 minutes particularly, which caught our boys by surprise,” he added.
With both teams looking to reach their first ever All-Ireland club final the Na Piarsaigh boss didn’t accept the cliché that the team that wanted it more would come out on top.
“I wouldn’t say who wants it more because you could see how much Oulart wanted it. Our legs and age profile maybe got us through.
“The boys are extremely mentally strong as well, especially after we lost all the momentum we just regrouped and the boys went at it again.”
While the attendance of 2,566 wasn’t particularly big, the vocal support helped drive on Na Piarsaigh as they led by three points going into the second period of extra-time.
For O’Neill who played on the first Na Piarsaigh teams to win both the IHC and SHC, he said a Croke Park appearance means a lot to the north-side club.
“For a city club (it means a lot). I’d say it was the first time I heard a roar of “Na Piarsaigh, Na Piarsaigh” at half-time in extra-time coming from our supporters so it means everything. There were six coaches left the car park this morning so it means everything to the club,” O’Neill revealed as the Na Piarsaigh supporters were still on the pitch half an hour after the full-time whistle.