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*Tony Butler in action for St Flannan’s College. Photograph: Raymond O’Mahony

As one of the more experienced members of St Flannan’s College’s Harty Cup side, Tony Butler can clearly see the positive effect their run is having by inspiring those in the years below them.

On top of his hurling commitments, Tony has also represented his country and province. Managing the sports ain’t easy, he admitted. “It’s difficult, getting the balance is the main thing, if you’re flogged there is no point going out and flogging yourself even more, you just have to manage your time on the pitch”.

“There is a bigger workload at the moment, just trying to get everything done is the trick and get my hurling back up to scratch and keep on top of my hurling too”. To keep his touch in, Tony is fortunate to be able to avail of the famed alleys at St Flannan’s College. “When you have the facilities like the alleys you can just be in there at lunchtime and after school to keep on top of the touch”.

Tony Butler. Photograph: John Mangan

He has noticed more people flocking to the alleys as interest in their campaign intensifies. “It gets bigger everyday with more people going, we’ve first and second years starting to bring their hurleys now”.

A member of the Clare minor hurling panel, Tony is used to playing in front of big crowds, the lesson he has learned from such outings being “just play the game not the occasion”. He pinpointed his decision making and delivery into the forwards as the two aspects of his game that improved most while being on the county panel.

Although some panellists have eased up on the study, the same cannot be said for the fifth year student, “You’ve to keep on top of your books because that is the main reason we come to school, books come first and hurling is after that. If you’re slacking in the books you’ll be brought back down to ground fairly lively by the coaches”.

Lining out with St Josephs Doora/Barefield coming up along the underage ranks, Butler was outstanding playing in attack. Now he finds himself operating as a wing-back. “I prefer the forwards but I’m not really given a chance up there, I don’t mind wing back it’s a nice position, I think it suits me personally but I wouldn’t mind being tried in the forwards”.

Not everyone in the school is invested in hurling but positivity is in the air, Tony outlined to The Clare Echo. “There is more of a buzz around the place, everyone has a smile around the place, we’ve hurlers with their heads up high and we’re just looking forward. The teachers will try build on this over the next two to three years”.

“Whoever works hardest on the day will go home with the trophy, we’ll focus on that, if everyone does their job the rest of it will come together after that,” he concluded.

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