IF you are looking for consistency from game to game from a player in this season’s Cork County SHC, then look no further than Midleton’s Paul Haughney.
He has been an outstanding performer in the Magpies midfield in their march to next Sunday’s county final, putting some superb points on the board and exhibiting a very strong work ethic.
He has one county medal tucked away since the club’s victory five years ago in the final against Sarsfields and he’s eagerly looking forward to Sunday’s showdown with the holders Imokilly and huge East Cork rivals.
“This is a very competitive championship, I believe that any team can beat another on any given day.
“There are no easy games, it’s not an easy championship, it’s certainly not easy to get into a final, even a semi-final.
“From that viewpoint, if you have one bad game in a year it’s another one gone and it’s taken us five years to get back into another final.
“Last year we lost to UCC and our season was gone but I felt in that game that we played reasonably well and did our best but just came up short against what was a very strong UCC team on the night.’’
A few members of the team since last year and previous years are not playing now for various reasons but they have been replaced by some very exciting, young hurlers and Haughney is encouraged by that.
“I think the younger lads and the more experienced ones are feeding off each other, there’s a good blend and a good bond there.
“We have lost a few good guys, Killian Burke, Alwyn Kearney, Peter Dowling and Pa O’Mahony, not just good players but good friends too.
“But it’s all about adjusting and moving on. There is a kind of new feel to the panel now and it’s refreshing when you see younger lads coming in like Sean O'Leary-Hayes, Cormac Beausang, Tommy O’Connell and others.
“These fellows are mad to get in, they are very ambitious and they keep everybody on their toes.’’
Off the field too, Haughney stresses that the players are good friends, hang about with each other which he believes adds to the squad spirit.
“In August when the championship starts to pick up again and everybody is back from Cork and everybody is there for training it creates a great atmosphere.
“It’s easier going to training too because you have that bond back. In the winter and Spring months, fellows are involved in College games, doing exams and Cork teams and you don’t have the same thing in training but when everybody is back you look forward a lot more to coming up training.’’
Haughney was one of the players in the past who was involved with Cork but everything is fully concentrated on Midleton duties now.
“That was tough because when you are in Cork you are coming back into the club scene maybe in August and the lads have been slogging away there, they have been keeping the show running while you are away and sometimes that can be tough trying to have a say because you haven’t been there.
“This year it’s been just the club and I am enjoying it and just trying to use the experience I had with Cork.
“I enjoyed my time in the Cork jersey with JBM and Kieran Kingston, it was a great experience and getting exposure at that level and getting quality hurling which can only benefit you. I think it brought me on as a person and a player.’’
Now it’s all about trying to complete the journey on Sunday, a journey that sometimes hit a few sticky bumps along the way.
“Yes, we were involved in a few tight games, games that could have gone either way. We only beat the Glen by a point, Newtownshandrum the same, Blackrock by two so it hasn’t been easy.
“There is a lot of character in the side but we know that the biggest task awaits and we are definitely not getting ahead of ourselves.
“Imokilly are an awesome team, they are the champions and back in the final again so we know the challenge that awaits.
“We didn’t get carried away with any of the wins because we knew that they’d probably be waiting for us if we won those games which we did.
“Maybe we can look back when it’s all over but now the whole focus is on them. It takes a very good team to reach two county finals and we’ll have to be very good to get past them.
“It’s a major challenge but one we embrace.’’