Five years ago, a bunch of first year students at St Flannan’s College were instructed to bring their hurleys to school everyday, on Saturday that group of young men will battle it out to become Dr Harty Cup champions.
Clooney/Quin’s Eoin Guilfoyle is set to miss the final, the defender picked up an injury in their quarter-final win over St Josephs Tulla and hasn’t been in contention since. Knee problems has forced Eoin Lynch of Ballyea to miss the bulk of their campaign. The injury list doesn’t stop there as selector Mike Kelly is in crutches following a game of squash.
Video analysis and statistics are utilised by the management, TY students at Flannans are often responsible for coding the games which are then studied by mentors and players.
Newmarket-on-Fergus native Kelly is hopeful their run will encourage more aspiring Clare hurlers to choose St Flannan’s when they consider their second level education options. “Our pick has changed in recent times, we’re much more open now. We’ve girls for the last number of years, we would always hope people that were interested in hurling would come in and try play for Flannans. Any bit of success you get would hopefully increase the profile, we’ll take anyone that wants to hurl or wants to come to school in general”.
New staff have been crucial to seeing Flannan’s return to the coveted stage that is the Dr. Harty Cup Final. “Up to five or six years ago there mightn’t have been as many newer members of staff involved in hurling and I think that has changed, the management need to take credit for that I suppose.
“We love hurling, we don’t look at it like a job, it is very enjoyable and every minute we spend up in the field is enjoyable. Tony and Jack have come in, Brendan has come in, they are great high profile people and the kids really look up to them, it’s very beneficial for them on lots of fronts, manager Kevin O’Grady outlined.
A former Clare U21 coach, O’Grady commented on what he believed the panel’s greatest strength was. “I think they are all down to earth, there isn’t anyone getting carried away with themselves, behind all this media talk and hype around the school, I feel they know that they have a big job to do. It’s going to be a big task but hopefully the games from earlier rounds will stand to them, that’s the hope but we’ll never know until the game is played”.
Two time All Star, Brendan Bugler has been a key factor in the hurling revival at Flannans. He told The Clare Echo that their run to the final has not impacted on his coaching role with the Wexford senior hurlers. Their panel strength with different players stepping up on each outing has impressed him. “There was other lads that had big games but might not have held the sliotar for that long but that wasn’t their role, Colm Cassidy and Peter Power worked tirelessly in the inside line their job was to work hard and create space for others outside them, they did that really well.
“Here in Flannans we know the calibre of players we have. It was great to see Oisin O’Donnell and Cian Galvin at their very best the last day, we need other guys to step up all over the place in the final, we’re lucky and blessed to have the calibre of player and leader throughout, let’s hope we bring it for the final. They are intelligent players and you have to be able to bring that intelligence to the field and adapt to different situations, you can coach them to a certain degree but at the end of the day it’s up to them”.
Three members of the management, O’Grady, Kelly and Shane McCarthy are history teachers while Bugler is a DCG and Construction Studies teacher or “circles and squares” as Kelly points out. They know the significance of what a win would mean and how they could regale future classes with tales from the history book on the Flannan’s team of 2020.