'You're starting to pick up a bit of momentum and now it's over'
Just as an appreciative applause and the blazing early June sun warmed their backs after completing the most straight-forward but utterly essential of tasks, a palpable feeling of ennui descended on the Dublin hurlers.
Galway's brutish destruction of Wexford the evening previous meant all Dublin had to play for yesterday in Parnell Park was their Leinster SHC status for 2019.
Three games. Three good, competitive performances.
A combination of events that sends Pat Gilroy's team to Salthill next week with nothing tangible to play for.
The earliest the Dublin footballers started their Championship campaign in Gilroy's four years as manager was June 6.
His first with the hurlers will be all over by June 9.
"It's disappointing," reflected Gilroy in that straight-forward manner of his, although you got the sense the circumstances of their defeats to Kilkenny and Wexford were only just sinking in.
A point up in both a minute into injury-time, all Dublin needed to do was close one out, or even earn a draw, and their summer would still be sizzling with possibilities.
"We've been motoring well since the middle of April," Gilroy noted of his first, almost complete season at Dublin's helm, a year the statistics won't depict nearly as favourably as the tangible signs of progress that have been made.
"You're starting to pick up a bit of momentum and now it's over but that was in our own hands.
"We were ahead on 71 minutes in two games and then to lose them, we have to learn from that and push on for next year."
Anti-climactic though it seemed, far better to be in Pat Gilroy's position that Kevin Martin's.
Offaly will play in next year's Joe McDonagh Cup, a demotion that comes in a year when the team have made forward spurts, although they have not been without the sort of disastrous defeats that have blemished the past decade.
Yesterday's was only the most recent.
"It's heartbreaking for the guys," Martin forlornly admitted. "They put in a huge effort this year. Just weren't able for four weeks in-a-row really. Last week was a sucker punch as well and mentally they're fatigued, physically they're fatigued."
Gilroy has deliberately avoided answering the relegation question in recent weeks but with his team safe yesterday afternoon, he added his voice to the choir questioning the wisdom of the system,
"I think, like ourselves, Offaly have progressed this year. Now to drop down a level, I don't think it's going to bring on hurling for them. It's very harsh," he noted. "To be fair to Offaly, to get four games in-a-row, they weren't going to be that fresh and once things started to turn there, you could see they were flagging.
"I think the round-robin thing is brilliant but certainly, these things can be changed.
"And I'd be all in favour of somebody coming up all right and trying to make the championship bigger and bigger if you can.
"I don't see how t's going to help Offaly in any way to be relegated."
On then to Galway next week, an inhospitable environment just now.
"We want to go out having played four good championship matches and we'll certainly be going out to win that game," Gilroy stressed.
"Irrespective of what Galway do, we'll want to win it. It's an opportunity to test ourselves against better players and that's really important for us."