PASSAGE have been getting nearer and nearer to winning a first BCE Consulting Engineers Seandún JAHC and they will hope to reach the promised land on Sunday.
They clash with St Vincent’s in Ballinlough (2.30pm) and club chairperson Eoin Barry, who is also part of the junior hurling team management, is hopeful that they can take the next step.
“We got to the semi-final in 2019, we lost by a point to Whitechurch,” he says.
“We got to the final last year and we were beaten by two points by Brian Dillons.
“It’s more or less the same group, the same selectors, the same management. We were bitterly disappointed last year to have lost but we’ve regrouped and we’ve trained hard for this. If we could lift the cup on Sunday, it would provide a massive boost to the club and the community in Passage.”
As a club, Passage are on the up, the result of a lot of hard work from a large number of people.
“I served as juvenile chairperson for five years before taking over as senior chairperson this year,” Barry says.
“There’s no magic formula to it – you’ve got to be organised and work hard with it. We would have learned a lot by participating in the Rebel Óg benchmarking.
“You had to meet criteria based on what you were doing in the club, in the schools, coach development, child protection, all of that. The framework is there and you go and follow it and that showed us the way for what we needed to do.
“It’s difficult in Passage. We’re not a big town but we’re not a small town either, we’re in the middle.
“You view what you provide to the kids as your product and you have to do it properly. We would view ourselves as a club on the up. If things go our way, we have a vision for the club for the next three years with three projects that we’d like to complete.
“The first one is underway, putting €130,000 into our main pitch, which has been there since 1952, a total redevelopment.
“Project number two, once we can get the correct funding, is an expansion of our existing clubhouse and dressing rooms to include a gym and meeting rooms and so on, which is €160,000.
“We also hope to put in a community walkway around our main pitch, which is around €16,000. We’re ambitious, we have plans and we want to be a club constantly moving forward but at the heart of the community, which is very important to us down in Passage West.”
To get this far, Passage have beaten Whitechurch and Na Piarsaigh.
Among their stars is Cian McCarthy, who won four SHC medals during his time with Sarsfields. Barry feels that his professionalism has a positive knock-on effect for the group as a whole.
“He’s a role model in how he prepares, in terms of his training and how he looks after himself,” he says.
“He’s a huge leader for us and Teddy is coach and selector and Cian’s brother Niall also plays, he’s a fabulous player as well.
“The captain this year is Ronan Harrington and he has played a leading role. He’s a very good guy and he’s a real model for all of the kids who aspire to wear the Passage jersey.
“The management group of Eoin Griffin, Teddy McCarthy and James Barrett along with the players have put in a serious amount of training and hours of planning.
“The commitment of all of them is huge. You don’t get to a city final by accident, there’s a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. From my point of view as chairperson, we’re very proud of them.”
They will look to make history, but Barry knows it won’t be easy.
“Vincent’s are unbeaten this year so we’re not under-estimating the job ahead of us,” he says.
“It’s going to be a serious battle on Sunday. Vincent’s are coming and they’re very good.”