Caulry manager Shane Curran, an All-Ireland club medal winner with St Brigid's during his playing career.

‘I’ve never seen a group like them’

Caulry manager Shane Curran described his dismissal on a red card as a “showboating exercise” - after his side’s dramatic draw with Moate All Whites secured a place in the knockout stages of the Westmeath SFC.

“My players and the Moate players deserve better than that,” said an animated Curran in the aftermath of an exciting encounter at TEG Cusack Park last Sunday.

The former St Brigid’s and Roscommon goalkeeper was shown a red card and banished to the stand by referee Mick Murtagh during the second half. The sending off appeared to be due to verbal exchanges between Curran and linesman Ken Gunning, with Murtagh consulting with the linesman before issuing the red card.

As for match itself, Curran said: “It was a magnificent game of football. I’ve been in Caulry before, ten years ago. We have an incredible group of players. I’ve never seen a group like them and I’ve been involved with St Brigid’s and Padraig Pearses.

"A never say die attitude, they’re together as one, they’re proud of their community. They’re proud of playing for Caulry. They fight for one another and the game is never up.”

With Caulry three points down in stoppage time, a penalty awarded for what was adjudged to have been a foul on Paddy Sleator gave the Mount Temple/Baylin men a lifeline. Curran described it as “a stonewall penalty” and Emmet Nally netted from the spot to earn Caulry a draw that felt like a victory.

Asked if he thought his team was beaten as time ticked away in added time, Curran’s answer was emphatic: “Absolutely not”.

In the first half, Moate quickly responded to Senan Baker’s goal for Caulry with a green flag of their own from Conor Sheridan.

“They got in around our backline which I wouldn’t be happy with,” said Curran. “You try to plan for everything, but they took the goal well. We were 1-6 to 3 points up, we were handling the game really well, but Moate hit us with 1-2 before the break and went in just a point down at half-time.

“I think Moate contributed brilliantly to the occasion, they have some right good footballers, and I think the standard in Westmeath is very good. I’m just so proud of my lads.

“The quality of the game was good and the physicality in the game was excellent, but it was poorly refereed,” Curran continued.

Curran said his team has really developed from the beginning of the competition.

“We have a lot of really young players doing really well. They can achieve anything they want to achieve going forward, a brilliant group of players.

“We had a brilliant meeting this morning and one of the older statesmen, Alan Rigney, spoke incredibly at that meeting about the importance of this match to the group and to the community.

"When you’ve got a guy at the end of his career giving everything at 38 or 39 years of age, the same as Gary Flanagan, and then you have Alan (Malynn) and Shane (Baker) and all the young guys chomping at the bit. We’ve got Shane Lawless doing really well at junior level and he has played senior football. There is another five or six and Tom Cloonan is coming back from injury. As young players they stood up to the mark and they became men in senior championship parlance, they were brilliant.”

Caulry will now face reigning champions St Loman’s Mullingar in their upcoming quarter-final. It will be the club’s first time to compete in the Westmeath SFC knockout stages since the group system was introduced many years ago.

“We’re in bonus territory. We’ll enjoy that game and we’ll look forward to the challenge,” added Curran.