*Michael Guilfoyle embraces his son Brian (left) as Sean Conroy celebrates with Oisin O’Brien & Aaron Landy. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

SETBACKS have been endured by St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in their quest to return to the senior ranks, to have orchestrated their return brought a huge wave of relief to manager Michael Guilfoyle.

Promoted back to senior after beating Tubber in the 2016 decider, St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield were relegated in 2018. They lost out in both the 2019 and 2021 intermediate finals but finally came good on Saturday to overcome Tulla after extra time.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, a delighted but drained Guilfoyle was experiencing unbridled joy with The Parish’s success. “Relief, it’s the only thing I have is relief. There was a savage effort but in by both teams there, I believe the legs in the end that we brought on were the difference in bringing us over the line, Senan Crosbie, Donal O’Halloran, Mossy Hehir, Cian Lahiffe who ended up marking Davy McInerney, these guys have come in and they are honest guys.

“We lost a couple of Cup matches, you know the ones, it was character building, we knew we had to extract every little bit out of people, that’s what we did and I’m so delighted for them, it’s important they move on and see where we go. Two weeks time is the Munster club someone told me, I said ‘great, good luck and we’ll see what happens”.

Players off the bench certainly made their mark and the Feakle native admitted some “difficult conversations” were had when it came to informing players they were not included in the starting fifteen. “There was guys disappointed today that didn’t get on from the start but they took it like men, it was difficult conversations with lads and in fairness to the likes of Jarlath, Donal great lads and at the end of it I’d claim our legs were savage at the end with Matthew Power, Senan Crosbie getting two points, it’s their first year playing intermediate and they really shone bringing another level to get us over the line”.

Though frustrated and annoyed with matters that occurred during their semi-final over Corofin which also went to extra time, most particularly the half hour delay to the contest and the fading light during extra time, Michael acknowledged that the win helped the squad on county final day. “It was character, we dragged it out”.

He added, “the Corofin game was so hard physically on us and them because they struggled a bit in the football because of it, we recovered a bit, we had injuries even though people told me I was talking rubbish about it but we recovered as best we could”.

Arguably that character was lacking when they lost out to a spirited Smith O’Briens side in the 2021 final. “Last year was so tough to take but that’s life, we were so determined to get back here today and people had said it’s hard to get back and it was but we’ve got a resilience in ourselves, we just dragged it out of ourselves in the last couple of games”.

Guilfoyle continued, “You don’t deserve anything, you have to earn it, no one will have feelings for you that you can go and do it any other way except working very hard”.

This year saw the addition of former Clare defender Oisin O’Brien to their coaching ticket in place of Limerick hurler Shane Dowling, his influence had a big bearing on proceedings, Guilfoyle said. “I’ve got to give credit to Oisin O’Brien, we had Shane Dowling last year and he brought in a pattern of play to us which proved a bit difficult for a while, maybe we didn’t carry it out to nth degree but today and since Oisin came in we drove it on, we were making sure that everyone was part of it and nobody was giving an inch, that shone in extra time, we didn’t give in, we brought on legs and it was the difference in the end”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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