Barrs boss Hurley hopes minor victory is the start of a new Blue hurling wave

Barrs boss Hurley hopes minor victory is the start of a new Blue hurling wave

Colm McCarthy, Sarsfields surrounded by St Finbarr’s players Ciarán Doolan, Ben Cunningham and Adam Buckley in their Rebel Óg premier 1 minor hurling final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Dan Linehan

A PREMIER 1 minor hurling title was overdue in Togher.

St Finbarr's were dominant in the 1990s in the grade, landing four in a row, and another in '97. Yet before Wednesday night at Páirc Uí Rinn, they'd endured a 23-year drought.

That hunger could well have been a factor in an awesome second half for the Blues, turning a three-point deficit against Sars into a 2-21 to 3-11 triumph. Blistering hurling married to ferocious tackling.

Manager Brian Hurley provided a direct link to those early '90s county wins, operating in goal in that era when Jimmy Barry-Murphy was the coach. JBM was back on board this season as a selector with Hurley, offering inspiration from the sideline to the new generation spearheaded by the likes of Jack Cahalane, Ben Cunningham, William Buckley, Ethan Twomey and Ben O'Connor. 

"It's all about stepping stones. The U21 Premier 2 county last year was important too, Ethan and Jack played a part in that.

"When the lads look over they've Jimmy there. That's a big factor. We were lucky enough to win four minor counties in the early '90s and Jimmy coached them all. Say no more."

Hurley is hopeful the defeat of the Sars will be the first of a new Blue wave.

 St Finbarr’s Adam O’Callaghan, Adam Buckley and Ruairí Fitzpatrick charge onto the pitch. Picture Dan Linehan
St Finbarr’s Adam O’Callaghan, Adam Buckley and Ruairí Fitzpatrick charge onto the pitch. Picture Dan Linehan

"One swallow doesn't make a summer. We know that well. We'd the U16 county last season, this minor, the U21 Premier 2 and hopefully we'll keep bringing lads through and also keep them together.

"We'd be hoping to make home advantage count in the minor football against Castlehaven as well." 

The Barrs are recycling some of their experienced coaches into the underage set-up, which includes Donal O'Grady in charge of the U16s. Ben O'Connor and William Buckley were in that team, pipped by Bride Rovers in the semi-final, along with corner-back Shane Kennedy.

"Shane Kennedy did a great job, as an U16, asked to do a tough job and did it. That's down to the underage coaching across the board. Donal O'Grady is there with the U16s, Kevin Keller is incredible, Ger Cunningham was with these lads at minor last year, and there are a lot more people besides bringing hurling through."

That bit of cuteness on the line stood to them throughout the campaign.

"We were slightly disappointed at the first half because they'd been dictating terms to us and we were playing second fiddle. We rearranged a few things just to go at them and Ethan going up centre-forward asked questions of them and of course, it helped that Jack got the goal straight away.

"Belief starting coming into the lads and it was like the Ballincollig game, we managed to get back level to force extra time and we grew from there. We were outstanding there. Second half in the Glen we showed that same determination when we were behind.

"Once you get Ben Cunningham, William Buckley and Jack Cahalane on the ball, your main shooters, you're getting scores. But that's a credit to the rest of the boys, especially defensively, to turn over possession and work it into space.

"It's all about the use of the ball. And when you don't have a league, it takes an awful lot of work at training."

The Barrs' cause was also helped by the excellence of keeper Dylan McSweeny, who took over as number one when Jack McCarthy suffered a cruciate injury.

Picture: Dan Linehan
Picture: Dan Linehan

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