FERGAL ‘RASPER’ CONDON has a love for hurling that is unrivalled.
The Imokilly boss’ eyes light up when you talk to him about the great game.
A native of Aghada, he has guided the division to the brink of a three-in-a-row triumph.
“I suppose each year we have added a bit of talent to the squad and we are improving all the time and the lads are still hungry for success. We have a great dressing room, a great panel, good hurlers and a great management team that work with me, doctors, physio’s and medics. The product is good and there is a good foundation for them to play.”
Imokilly are not a club, but that isn’t the feeling within the division for everyone involved.
“What I see is the bond the players have between them and as a result some of them are really close friends after what we brought to the table five years ago, they look out for one another and that’s the way they hurl together too. From a technical perspective they are used to each other’s runs now they have been together a while.
“They look into what they do very carefully and they know their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and they have that advantage having played together for some time now. We have had success and a lot of players want to play for Imokilly and isn’t that what is all about?
“There are a lot of talented clubs and players in East Cork and you have to put in place an environment for players in smaller clubs in East Cork who want to play with Imokilly and that is what we are all about.
“We are asked to consider players from all over East Cork and we will turn nobody away and we have looked at and used 75 or 76 hurlers this year alone and there is a place with Imokilly to prosper.
“Players keep giving and there is no end to what they can do, we showed strength against Sarsfields, had 19 shots at goal in the second half against Midleton and all 19 were on target and we scored 34 points.”
Imokilly’s opposition in the county senior final, Glen Rovers, will be a different challenge altogether.
“We have another hurdle to overcome. We have back-to-back championships and so have they, it is a game of hurling and the prize for the winner is huge.
“We are really a ‘one-game’ team, we never look too far down the road, but it’s here now and it’s going to be a cracker and they will be out to dethrone us and we will be doing everything we can to hold on to our title.
“Having said that we know it’s not going to be easy and we are well aware of that and they have given our division some fair hidings down through the years. Our record against them over the years hasn’t been great.
“Our lads are looking forward to the game and we always set targets and challenges for the lads and the Cork county senior hurling championship final is as big as it gets.”
Imokilly will be the strong favourites going into the final.
“We have been favourites in so many games now it doesn’t bother us, it’s like water off a duck’s back to us and we have a group of well-grounded players who will give their all and that’s all I can ask for. Players like Bill Cooper, Seamus Harnedy, Paudie O’Sullivan, Shane Hegarty and John Cronin are there to use their experience for our younger players and when you have players like them in your side you won’t go too far wrong.”
Five years ago life wasn’t so sweet for the Imokilly side, but Condon knew he had the makings of a great team.
“At the start it wasn’t easy, but we built a strong team off the pitch and put everything in place to develop a good side on the pitch and we developed the right attitude and brought in players who wanted to play and wanted to wear the jersey.
“Now 29 and 30 are as important to us as number eight and nine and we have made that quite clear.”