*St Breckan’s utility man, Jack Sheedy. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
A SURPRISE FACTOR with St Breckan’s no longer exists as the North Clare outfit are viewed as a top side but ultimately the provision of championship silverware is required for them to become a seriously respected force.
Cusack Cup success has already been garnered by Breckan’s this year who overcame Kildysart in the final, a repeat of their 2019 Clare IFC victory. Backing this up in championship was never going to be easy, especially when they find themselves pitted alongside Éire Óg, St Joseph’s Miltown and Corofin with only one team missing out on a quarter-final place.
Both the Clare IFC and the Cusack Cup titles have been won under Donie Garrihy’s watch. Their league win has not been overstated but was important in making a mark and continuing to progress new players. “It kept the interest there while the inter-county season was on, that’s the height of it,” he remarked of the Cusack Cup. “It kept the interest, nothing more and it kept us interested, being surrounded by Kerry, Limerick and Galway, they were all involved in All-Ireland series so it has been difficult to get games”.
Having looked like the form team for the bulk of last year’s championship, the men from Lisdoonvarna, Doolin and Kilshanny saved their worst display till the most important day when they hit 0-05 and lost by six to Éire Óg in the county semi-final. The lessons from this were simply according to Garrihy, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself, keep doing the right thing. We didn’t do bad in the Cusack Cup, we ended up in the final and took the Cup. You can bury your head in the sand and give up or don’t feel sorry for yourself and do your best, when you do that you won’t be disappointed.
This will be the first year since St Breckan’s returned to the senior ranks that the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival takes place. Once again, there is no form of rocket science in the viewpoint of Donie on what the footballers need to do to find their right match on the field of play, “Keep doing the right thing and keep doing our best, if you go to the Matchmaking and do your best then you won’t be disappointed when you’re going home,” he quipped.
Travel miles have also increased among the panel with some players spending time in the US and Canada, there’s no complaint from the two time Oscar Traynor winning manager as he flagged it is something all club managers are dealing with. “The guys have travelled and we have played without them, the last two years they haven’t been able to go anywhere so you can’t say anything. I did in when I was 20 so I can’t complain”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Donie welcomed the fact that they face the reigning champions in the first round. “It is a great test, the four team group will have nothing easy. We expect nothing else. The worst training sessions you’ve had were the easy ones and the worst games you played in were the easy ones, we will get great value from tough games and we expect tough games in our games. The most disappointed I have been in soccer is winning games 7-0 and the same in football when winning easy games”.
Garrihy was adamant their three opponents will “be primed” for their respective clashes. “We have a local derby with Corofin, Miltown will be disappointed with what happened in the quarter-final last year, we’re disappointed with the semi-final so it has a lot of ingredients to be a tremendous group”.
With the calibre of young exciting players like Joe McGann, Jack Sheedy, Alan Sweeney, Colm O’Brien, Dale Masterson, Aiden Davidson and Patrick Doherty, there is every reason for Breckans to be optimistic once they back up the talent with an insatiable workrate.
Management: Donie Garrihy (manager), Jersey O’Loughlin (selector), Pat Haugh (selector), Declan O’Keeffe (coach), Rob Mulcahy (S&C), Grainne Travers (nutritionist), John Earls (PT), John Petty, Aidan McDermott, Pat Cosgrove
Captain: Dale Masterson
Vice Captains: Jack Sheedy, Colm O’Brien, Raphael Considine
Key Player: Alan Sweeney
One to Watch: Denis O’Callaghan
Fresh blood: Cian Jimmy Burke
Departures Gate: Liam Tierney (ACL), Evan Barrett (emigrated), Oisin O’Loughlin (J1)
Titles won: 0
Last season’s run: Saw their unbeaten run come to a shuddering halt in the semi-finals where they fell down to Éire Óg.
Rnd 1 vs Éire Óg
Rnd 2 vs Corofin
Rnd 3 vs St Joseph’s Miltown