THE history of Blackrock hurling club is well documented, the most decorated club side in the county with a tradition second to none.
The list of great players that have worn the famed jersey with so much distinction is endless and for the older generation of those players, next Sunday’s county final is a very special day for them.
It’s been a lengthy enough famine in Church Road, going back to 2002 since their last title triumph but one of their all-time greats, Jimmy Brohan is delighted they are back again on the final stage.
“It’s great altogether, the club badly needs success and we have had that at underage level in the past number of years, at U21 too.
“I believe now that the players on those teams and that are playing next Sunday are showing that they are maturing. I think that was shown the last day against Na Piarsaigh. They hit us with two fast goals after half-time and if that had happened two or three years ago we would have collapsed.
“That didn’t happen this time and they came back and outscored Na Piarsaigh in the final quarter by nine points to three. That was a great sign that they are maturing."
Brohan, a star of so many great Rockies victories down the years and club’s current president, acknowledged that it has been a gradual process in Church Road and that the successes in the grades below gave no guarantees.
“That has always been the way, it does not follow that you do it at senior after doing it at minor and U21 and that has been proved in a lot of instances.
“At senior level, you need a good blend of youth and experience. We were unlucky in so far as there were retirements before they came through.
“If we had Wayne (Sherlock) and Fergal (Ryan) and others with the players coming through it might have been a different story entirely.
“I think that we lost games there in the last couple of years through immaturity, especially the one last year against Erin’s Own, we should have won that but we didn’t.’’
Ryan and Sherlock are now the key men on the management team and Brohan believes their input has been very important.
“Yes of course, they went through it all and they know how championship titles at this level of hurling are won. They must be a great inspiration to these younger players who are representing us now. We are basically a young team and that could be a big factor on Sunday, the input of Fergal and Wayne.
“We are a bit short of experience but maybe and, hopefully, we’ll make up for that with enthusiasm. They are definitely enthusiastic, they have a great work ethic and they keep going right to the end which is very important."
The latter trait, Brohan believes, is very important.
“Definitely, that was shown in the Na Piarsaigh game and against Newcestown too. They had to come late as well against Bandon so that’s a good sign of them.
“We might not have any really big names but every one of them is well able to hurl. They have been together now for a good while, they came up through the ranks together and, more importantly, they have won together.
“It’s going to come through eventually and, hopefully, it will be this year. There is great progress being made, we haven’t played in a final for 14 years now, the previous long spell was 25 years since we won a county, hopefully, that will never happen again and I don’t think it will with these fellows."
Imokilly will start as favourites on Sunday but that does not bother the former great of Cork hurling.
“Yes, they are but that might suit us too. When you are going in as favourites you are expected to win and when it does not happen there is a big let-down.
“There is a great buzz here, you can see it on Saturday mornings now with the youngsters and that must rub off on the players. It’s the first final too in the new stadium and that’s another incentive for us.
"Imokilly are a very good team, individually and collectively. But, hopefully, they’ll be a bit tired after the four games against Erin’s Own and Sars.’’