Ó hAilpín admits 2018 was a huge kick in the teeth for Na Piarsaigh hurling

Ó hAilpín admits 2018 was a huge kick in the teeth for Na Piarsaigh hurling
Carrigtwohill's Jay Horgan breaks out of defence past Na Piarsaigh's Shane Forde and Daire Connery, during their Cork SHC relegation play-off clash in Cobh. Picture: David Keane.

IT wasn’t the summer Na Piarsaigh were expecting. 

Getting to the penultimate round of the Cork SHC in 2017 gave them great hope. 

Blackrock had stopped them in their tracks by a single point but there was genuine belief they could improve and maybe go a step further.

Bandon and Bride Rovers had other ideas this year. Seán Óg Ó hAilpín is a selector with Na Piarsaigh and following their one-point Cork SHC relegation victory over Carrigtwohill on Saturday, the All Ireland medallist reflected on the season gone by.

“2018 was a huge kick in the teeth for us. 

"I won’t beat around the bush, we had big ambitions. Especially when you get to a semi-final with a young enough team bar one or two that are over 30. 

"This crop of players was at the right age. It was a multitude of reasons why we didn’t progress. 

"It just didn’t happen for us.The only saving grace is a lot of these fellas have years ahead of them. 

"It is a year lost, but thankfully they have more years. If you are 31/32 it is a year closer to retire but these fellas are 20/21 and a few minors as well.

“Hopefully it is a learning curve. We didn’t achieve what we wanted. No two years are the same. 

"Just because you do X amount last year doesn’t guarantee that you will get back there the next year. 

"You forget at the start of the year all the teams are in the same boat. No team wants to be involved in relegation and it is very hard to motivate fellas. 

"When we were knocked out by Bride Rovers trying to get fellas back in training for the last few weeks has been very hard to do. 

"As the weeks wore on, we got fellas out training. You don’t want a black mark against you at the end of the year. 

"Because whatever happens next year you are already on the back foot. Psychologically that will play on players’ minds – that it is a pressure year instead of going into the new year with a clean slate.”

They had to toil extremely hard to get the better of Carrigtwohill with Evan Sheehan’s injury-time point the winner.

“I thought a draw would be a fair result. I wouldn’t have argued if we had to come and play again. I thought Carrigtwohill fought tremendously. After we went up 1-2 to no score, they got several points in a row. 

"They rallied very strong. Even with the wind behind our backs in the second half, they fought hard. 

"Carrigtwohill have huge heart. For us to get a one-point victory, we will take it.”

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