ROBERT Emmetts manager Kevin McMullan admits the loss of injured club captain Martin Fitzpatrick contributed to their All-Ireland Intermediate quarter-final loss to Abbeyknockmoy on Saturday.
McMullen was forced off during Emmetts' county final win over St Gabriels and was unable to recover in time for the visit of the Connacht champions to Ruislip, with the Galway side duly running out 0-10 to 0-5 winners.
“He was a massive loss,” McMullan told The Irish Post. “We have a small panel, plenty of backs but hardly any forwards. We only had one lad on the bench who was really a forward, so to lose Martin was massive. Without him, we don't really have a centre-forward.”
Meanwhile, McMullan refused to criticise Eoin Chawke's performance as the normally lethal free-taker hit four wides and saw a late penalty saved.
“I can't really complain because he won the final for us,” said McMullan. “His frees in the [London SHC] final and the semi-final were excellent. We needed him to be at his best, but these things happen.”
A red card for influential midfielder Tadhg Healy capped a miserable afternoon for Emmetts, but McMullan's view of the incident was obstructed and, before he knew it, his team were down to 14 men with around 18 minutes to play.
He said: “I didn't really know what was happening, I just seen Tadhg was on the ground, and then one of their lads came flying in.
“The referee said he stamped on him, but Tadhg says he didn't. I couldn't really see it, I'm just going by what Tadhg said. He was gutted after the game and kept apologising, but there's no need to worry about it now.
“He's been our best hurler all year, probably one of the best in London, and when he got sent off I thought our chance had gone, but our boys done well after and, in hindsight, if we had have taken our points instead of going for goals, we could have pulled it back.”
Pictures: Malcolm McNally