LITTLE did St Finbarr’s imagine it would take 29 years to get back to another county hurling final after Mick Barry lifted the Sean Óg Murphy Cup aloft, when defeating Carbery at the second time of asking in the 1993 decider.
After the time of plentiful came the famine, a long and enduring period, when the famous Togher club could only look on with a degree of envy as others feasted at the top table.
It’s one of the reasons why that part of the southside is in a near state of frenzy on the eve of tomorrow’s much-anticipated final against great rivals Blackrock at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 4pm.
Nobody saw it come as former dual star and current selector John Cremin outlined during the week.
“As a club we were flying. I had retired in 1990 and there were a lot of players around, so it was a question of ‘get out of the way and let someone else take over.’ There was nearly a queue to take the jersey from you,” he said.
“We had won minor and U21 counties which meant we were competitive at senior and we looked set to go on and win more counties, but it didn’t happen. Then we had the gulf.
“The demographics in the area had a big bearing on it because you didn’t have the numbers that you once had and manpower was another issue.
“All of a sudden it was a big job to get it back on track and for me I think it has been the hard work of the past 20 years at street league and under-age levels that is now coming to fruition.
“There’s no denying it hurt. You’re not involved at the business end of the season and you know you’re struggling, but you have to keep going.
“All clubs go through spells like that and you need patience and acknowledging where you are as well. That’s important, too.
“The bottom line is that you have to work your way out of the situation and not be dreaming about what might be.
“I remember we were playing in a lot of B competitions at under-age which was a telltale sign in itself and there is no overnight fix.”
The final is a repeat of an amazing group game which saw the Rockies blow an early nine-point lead and register 19 wides, the Barrs hitting back to win by 0-24 to 1-20.
Blackrock jumped 0-11 to 0-2 in front after only 10 minutes and their opponents appeared in serious bother prompting Cremin to joke: “Who picked this team? And slowly move away from the rest of the selectors.
“Seriously, though, you’re asking yourself where’s this going? Clearly a couple of things weren’t right and you had to make calls.
“This time the shuffling worked for us, other times it doesn’t. In fairness to the players on the pitch, they really dug in and there was no panic.
“The new lads have been inspirational for the Barrs this year. They’re young, full of energy, enthusiasm and have no fear.
“They have been a joy to watch, the way they conduct themselves on the field, the brand of hurling they play and there’s a style of hurling I admire big time, smart and busy.
“To me the Barrs have always been renowned for their hurling and they’d hurl their way out of games. If you’re in trouble, what do you do? You hurl your way out of it. That’s your DNA,” Cremin concluded.
Meanwhile, Blackrock’s sister club, St Michael’s, set out on a second county football trail on Saturday afternoon with a junior county quarter-final against the Avondhu champions Buttevant in Grenagh at 4pm.
The Seandún champions, who are also in the SAFC final against Knocknagree in a fortnight, were also involved in the 2019 campaign overcoming Kilworth and Ballymartle before losing to St James in the semi-final.
Cobh v Cullen, Mourne Abbey; Kinsale v Urhan, Dunmanway; St James v Kilmurry, Enniseane; St Michael’s v Buttevant, Grenagh. All 4pm.