KILMACUD Crokes went down to an agonising last-minute goal by Burren from Co Down on Saturday to deny them a place in the All-Ireland Féile Division 2 final, writes Diarmuid Geraghty.
It brought the curtain down on a memorable campaign for the Stillorgan men who enjoyed wins over St Vincent's and Kilcormac/ Killoughey of Offaly and Armagh side Clann éireann.
Despite the heartbreaking manner of the defeat, Crokes manager Declan Donnelly believes that the weekend will be a positive learning process for his young charges.
"The way our host club Kilcormac/Killoughey and indeed all the other clubs greeted us was incredible," he said.
"I think that's what the lads would have learned as a group from the weekend. It's about a lot more than just football. It's about community spirit and forging new friendships. It also opened their eyes to the work from volunteers which keeps the GAA going."
The semi-final was played in the impressive surroundings of O'Connor Park in Tullamore, giving Crokes the chance to showcase their skills in one of the best grounds in the country.
Unfortunately, though, after a real dogfight, they came up just short. Burren, possibly hindered by the intensity of their battle with Crokes, were unable to go all the way as they went down to New York in the decider.
"I suppose after all the highs on this Féile journey it was tough to experience such a low," Donnelly reflected.
"Both the team and the mentors were inconsolable at the finish. But it was wonderful to see later that evening that the boys were out kicking football again with their new-found friends. It was just a wonderful experience, not just for us and the players, but for all the families who gave great support throughout the weekend."
All-Ireland Féile Div 2 Kilmacud Crokes results
Kilmacud Crokes 2-7 Kilcormac/Killoughey (Offaly) 1-2
Kilmacud Crokes 2-8 St Vincent's (Offaly) 0-6
Kilmacud Crokes 0-7 Clann Eireann (Armagh) 0-3
Semi-final: Kilmacud Crokes 2-2 Burren (Down) 1-6