*Oisin O’Donnell holds off his marker. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Last Saturday’s victory by St. Flannan’s over St. Kieran’s was “as good a win as Flannans have ever had” according to team coach Brendan Bugler.
Speaking moments after the final whistle the Whitegate native said, “There was a strong wind there and to be only five points down, I thought we did brilliantly in the first half, closing them out, closing out space. The policy was not to concede a goal. We had a sending off just before half time which I thought was harsh. Ashley has been a big big player for us all year and the message at half time was to give him another day out. We fought tooth and nail for this”.
Joint captain, Conner Hegarty injured his shoulder in the Harty Cup final week. His introduction early in the second half gave St Flannan’s a noticeable lift.
“First and foremost you have to look at a player and his well being. He told us he was fine. Conor Halpin has been chomping at the bit as well all season and he has been training really well. He came in today and did a great job. When Connor Hegarty came on, he has that little bit of class and when there is space in front of him he can take a point and he was exceptional in the second half”.
Bugler and the management team of Kevin O’Grady, Mike Kelly and Shane McCarthy had their homework done on St Kieran’s College ahead of the quarter-final. “They brought on the likes of Harry Shine, an under 16 with Kilkenny and touted as the next Richie Hogan. They had Eoin Guilfoyle and Ciaran Brennan also to spring from the bench. We knew when they were with that wind if we kept the score down and not give them a lead of ten or eleven points we would always have a chance.
“Our defence was heroic and they were heroic here last week as well. It was really backs to the wall type of stuff. It really is not good for the heart but we got out on the right side”.
Tony Butler was absent from the “heroic” Flannan’s defence. “When someone is missing it’s really next man up. Jack Lyons came in today and did well as did Conor Halpin. It’s next man up that’s the way we look at it. We have a strong panel,” Bugler said when asked about the unavailable Doora/Barefield teenager.
“These lads are competitors, it doesn’t matter if it’s an egg and spoon race. The Harty is over and we are focussing on the Croke Cup. We have a huge task ahead. Raphaels beat an exceptional Presentation team but I wasn’t really surprised as they won the All-Ireland B last year. We will have to have our work done to match them”, concluded a clearly happy team coach.