WHEN it comes to club people in Ballincollig there aren’t too many names you would mention ahead of a certain Michael O’Brien.
He has been involved in many sides, as a selector or manager, over the last few years and he seems to have the lucky touch.
The former dual player was their manager when they won the senior county football title in 2014, involved with the minor hurlers in a Premier 2 victory, and has now steered their U21 hurlers to county success, a first since lifting the top tier title back in 1996.
Better known as ‘Docs’ to club supporters, was naturally delighted with their Premier 2 triumph but also was complimentary to Courcey Rovers.
“It was a great win, especially with it going to extra-time,” said O’Brien, who had Terence O'Leary, Danny and John Dwyer in his experienced management team.
“We had a very good first half playing with the wind and had a five-point lead at half-time, but we knew they would come back into it. They did and we were lucky to get a draw at the end of normal time.
“They had a free to win it and we were lucky that it just went wide. We went into extra-time knowing that we would have to dig deep and come out fighting and this group of players did that and I am so proud of every one of them.
“Adding the U21 title to the intermediate one makes it a great year for the club and hopefully we are going upwards and that’s where we want to be going.
“There was a number of the fellas out there who were involved with the intermediate team and they brought that experience into this game and it certainly helped us a lot."
James O'Leary, Ross O'Donovan, Karl Walsh, Luke Fahy, Fenton Denny and Sean Walsh, the top scorer on Sunday to the tune of 13 points, all contributed to the Collig's intermediate final victory over Blackrock back in October. As did Robbie Bourke, who was suspended against Courceys.
Gearóid O'Donoghue and Jordan Murray featured in earlier rounds of the IHC, while in contrast Conor O'Leary, Stephen Wills, Evan Cooke, a Cork minor footballer last summer, and Paul Cooney, who was on the inter-county hurling squad, are just 17.
The blend was certainly effective, despite Ballincollig struggling to make in-roads at minor in recent seasons, and all bar one of the hurlers that got game time last Sunday will be available next year when they move up to Premier 1.
“We really had to dig deep, but I feel sorry for Courcey Rovers as they are a great side and they have had a tough year losing two finals. But we are delighted with the win.
“We had a plan for their top players and I thought, defensively, we had a great performance from the lads, with Gearóid O’Donoghue doing a great job marking Sean Twomey.
“Midfield and all the forwards all worked hard as well and got back when they needed to help out in defence. We were missing Robbie Bourke and he was a huge loss, but all credit to the lads, they dug in and made sure he wasn’t missed.
“It’s a great day for hurling in the club and we are delighted to be taking the cup back to the Village and I have sure the celebrations will go on for a few days.”
It capped off a superb 2018 for hurling in the club, following on from their intermediate triumph in October, an U16 Premier 2 championship, an U15 Premier 1 league and an U12 trophy for good measure.