*Ashley Brohan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Ordinarily both teachers and students are not enthused about returning to school after the Christmas but for Kevin O’Grady has found an extra pep in his step at St Flannan’s College over recent weeks.
With the build-up and excitement associated with their run in the Dr. Harty Cup run, O’Grady has been pleased with the amount of support within the school community. They returned to St Flannan’s on Monday as provincial champions for the twenty second time in their history.
“Thrilled and over the moon” were the first words spoken by Kevin as he attempted to reflect on their success, moments after being crowned champions. “It’s unbelievable. It’s hard to think about anything else, I’m lost for words”.
From start to finish, they were the more dominant side and the Beagh native admitted it was a rare occasion whereby anything that could go right, did. “Everything clicked, it was one of those days. The stats on puckouts and the free count at half-time was really good. When everything clicks like that you would hope to be a couple points more ahead and make things more breathable but they held on very well in the end, to be fair we were the better team”.
A former coach to the Clare U21 hurlers under Donal Moloney and John Carmody, O’Grady who is a history teacher told The Clare Echo that this team weren’t burdened by the rich history St Flannan’s hold in the Harty Cup. “The school setting and the buzz in the school, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to work, you’re going in with a great group of lads and a great group of the staff in there, it’s as good as anything as we’ve done, there is a great history within the school, every year is a new year and there is no point looking in the past”.
Weather conditions were the main talking point in advance of their win over CBC Cork as the tie was postponed not once but twice. It increased the work-load on him as manager but he pointed out that the messages imparted by him and fellow selectors Brendan Bugler, Mike Kelly and Shane McCarthy negated the effect the deferrals had on their panel.
“One of the things at the start of year was that we said we would try and focus on the things that we could control, one of the things we can’t control is the weather, there was no point even talking about it no more than referee decisions. Control the stuff you can control like your first touch, catching the ball, finishing your scores, you can’t control the weather or the other team. We had worked very hard on that, when things came up such as the weather we were able to adapt very easily”.
Facing into the All-Ireland series is next on the horizon but it didn’t come into their focus at all, the ex Crusheen and Tulla coach admitted. “The Harty Cup was the goal at the start of the year, everything else was a bonus”.