*Members of the St Josephs Doora/Barefield management: Darragh Droog (S&C), Liam Clohessy (stats), Vinny Sheedy (selector), Sean Conroy (kitman), Michael Guilfoyle (manager), Shane Dowling (coach).

Just three years ago, Michael Guilfoyle was coach to the Feakle hurlers that were crowned intermediate champions, this Sunday he is wishing to repeat the dose but instead as manager of St Josephs Doora/Barefield.

Off the back of a four and a half year stretch involved with his native Feakle, Michael got the call when St Josephs Doora/Barefield had appointed 2018 All-Ireland winner with Limerick, Shane Dowling as their new coach.

It was a case of being reinvigorated with the prospect of a new challenge. “The Feakle thing had run its course, I had done four and a half years, they needed change whether they thought so or not I don’t know but they did want me to consider going back but I felt I had given it all and the opportunity came up to talk to Barefield about this, it was an odd situation where Shane had already been picked”.

He equates preparing Doora/Barefield for the county final and Feakle as “chalk and cheese” while admitting that reverting to a non-coaching role has been a task that took time to adapt to. With both Dowling and S&C coach Darragh Droog on board, the rhetoric countywide has been to applaud the professional set-up at their disposal.

“We really didn’t get to see Shane until May, ever since he has played the game the way I like it to be played, it has taken time to get that drilled into guys but really they are comfortable on the ball and know what to do. Darragh Droog gave the programmes at the start of the year, it’s hard to call when you are giving programmes out and trying get lads to progress themselves without being able to measure it but certainly anytime he has been with physically with us he has added a huge amount of experience and knowledge to it, you can’t buy that stuff at club level generally,” Guilfoyle told The Clare Echo.

Corner forward on the first Clare team to win a provincial minor title scoring 1-03 in their 3-13 3-11 win over Tipperary, Michael’s last appearance in the saffron and blue was a February 1993 tournament outing for the seniors. While at club level, senior glory in 1988 was the highlight with his Feakle career continuing towards the early 2000s.

When this door closed, the opportunity to coach underage with Doora/Barefield arose “the guts of twenty years” ago. Hs twin sons Brian and Barry were starting off with the U6s and he got involved with the age-groups above which featured current panellists Alan O’Neill, Jarlath Colleran and Aaron Landy. “I was coming to the end of my own career at senior level and I wanted to give something back, I always got a huge amount of time from a lot of people in Feakle so you always felt you owed it to the kids of wherever you were to give them something and make an effort by giving some of your knowledge and experience. It wasn’t a problem because I was living locally,” he reflected of the initial involvement.

Two thirds of the current panel have been coached by Guilfoyle up along The Parish ranks with the trio of Fionn Kelleher, Eoghan Talty and Dara Nagle getting their first taste of the man noted for being a little bit vocal on the sideline.

Although not involved with St Josephs at intermediate level, Michael always kept a close eye on their outings. Fitness and physicality were the areas he earmarked that needed considerable improvement when he took on the job. “Shane’s training has brought that to the fore, it took time to get used to but it is now in place and it’s the norm for training at this stage”.

Intermediate success for the club’s footballers last year was a help but managing both codes has been difficult while soccer commitments have also entered the fray. “We’ve had injuries most days, some serious injuries which is difficult to manage, with a smaller panel it would be a lot harder but the fact we’ve numbers has made it easier. I can only give a hundred percent credit to Kevin Frehil and his team, working together we made sure there was no crossover the week before their championship they didn’t train with us and after that they were with us. While we didn’t get some extra work done with some guys, you knew they were working hard albeit not hurling but they were working hard anyway”.

Whether it’s the Guilfoyle family in Feakle, Newmarket-on-Fergus or Roslevan, hurling is never far from the conversation. Michael admitted that despite his son Brian lining out at wing-forward and Barry’s involvement in their backroom team, there is some reprieve on discussions related to the small ball. “We do because they are gone most of the time doing their own thing. You always have stuff to do between video analysis, pitch work and different things that can on the whole time. Personally I don’t get to turn off from it much but that’s the enjoyment you get from putting the time into it, hopefully there will be a positive result at the end of the day on Sunday”.

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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.

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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