HIS tally of 10 points and the Man of the Match award at Croke Park belied it, but Ballygiblin’s Joseph O’Sullivan hadn’t trained all week after picking up a strain in his leg at training last weekend.
Thankfully, the strapping he applied did the trick and the centre-forward played a key role in ensuring victory.
After the loss to Mooncoin at the same stage in 2022, victory over Easkey exorcised some ghosts.
“We had a tough time here last year, it’s only 11 months ago,” he said.
“We needed that to drive us over the line. Last year hurt. We were inside in the dressing-room at half-time and you could see the motivation on everyone’s face.
“Everyone was willing to die for each other, we are just delighted to bring this All-Ireland back to Mitchelstown and Ballygiblin.”
As disappointing as the defeat to the Kilkenny side was, the experience of going to Croke Park stood to them at least.
“Last year, we were focused on Croke Park and the occasion,” O’Sullivan said.
“We didn’t even think about Mooncoin. This year it was all Easkey. Last year I didn’t even know one of the names of the Mooncoin players – I was just thinking about Croke Park, the bright lights and running out.
“This time we were tuned in, everyone had a job. We all knew what we were doing. We had watched them play. We had studied them.”
Any nerves Ballygiblin might have had were settled as Mark Keane and Darragh Flynn combined for the goal and O’Sullivan produced a big display when it was needed most. Ultimately, it was a team effort, as he acknowledged.
“I believed in my ability,” he said.
“So it is amazing. I’m ecstatic. It is unprecedented what is going to go on in Mitchelstown for the next week or two.
“We have loads of people to step up. Young Darragh Flynn has been dying sick all week. He had a bad flu. You could see it in him there he wasn’t his right self, but he still gave everything for the cause. We have a man to stand up every day.
“It was a career-defining game for us. We didn’t want to be remembered as the team to lose two finals. To win that game, we have set ourselves up in Ballygiblin history for life. What a day.”