Glory after 33 years – ‘I’ve grown men coming up to me crying, that’s just real passion and heart’

THE EUPHORIA IN the St Finbarr’s camp after yesterday’s Cork senior football final triumph was not just rooted in the fact that they were a team atoning for a reversal at the same hurdle twelve months before.

Ian Maguire captained St Finbarr’s to Cork senior football glory.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

For a club who had won their eighth crown at this level in 1985, it was a long time waiting for the ninth title to arrive.

Eight final losses in the interim heightened that sense of disappointment. A long-awaited victory sparked an emotive response, something which manager Ray Keane, a Caherciveen native and brother of newly-appointed Kerry senior boss Peter, could easily detect.

“I’ve grown men coming up to me crying, that’s just real passion and heart,” he remarked afterwards to local radio station C103.

“As an outsider, and a Kerry man on top of it, you’re kind of wondering what are they on about. It’s 33 years they’ve been waiting which is phenomenal when you think of the size of the club and the base they have.

“I’m just delighted for each and every one of them, the backroom team and more importantly the players. There’s 41 players in total, each and every one of them deserve a medal. I could not give them high enough praise.”

🇺🇦 The Barrs champions returning home with the Cup ! Great atmosphere on Barrack Street Cork. Video: @MediaAperture @the_Barrs #ComeOnTheBarrs #BluesNews @OfficialCorkGAA @PaircUiCha0imh @pure_cork #champions

— Drone Photography Cork (@DroneCork) October 28, 2018

In an exciting encounter that ebbed and flowed, the input of St Finbarr’s and Cork captain Ian Maguire proved a crucial ingredient in the success over Duhallow.

“When I took over first, the biggest issue I felt we had was we didn’t have leaders,” said Keane.

“There was five or six of them that I personally identified and they all stood up there. Ian, I don’t have the words to describe what he means to the team or the standing that I hold him in personally because I think he’s just a great man.

“I think he’s arguably one of the best players in the country if the team is built properly around him. I’m just thrilled for him. Last year he did everything he could to win that final and unfortunately it went against him.

“Mike Shields has been around there a long time, Colin Lyons, Denis O’Brien, Robbie O’Mahony coming on for the last 30 seconds, you don’t know what it means for some of these fellas. To be playing all your life and to get a chance at a county and to eventually get one, it’s amazing.”

St Finbarr’s goalkeeper John Kerins celebrates victory with team-mate Colm Scully.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

For Maguire the chance to share in a triumph with some of the club’s long-serving figures was crucial. For a bunch of the St Finbarr’s team, the memories of the losses in deciders in 2009, 2010 and 2017 spurred them on.

“I’m so happy for all the warriors, Robbie O’Mahony and Michael Shields, this is their day and I’m so happy I was able to help them get their county medal. Ross Dwyer, Glen (O’Connor), these fellas, they are the club. I’m delighted for them. No one deserves county medals more than them.

Robert O’Mahony celebrates victory for St Finbarr’s.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s just a great day for the club.  We’ve been there and we’ve lost. It’s been a tough couple of years and even last year with the loss of Kevin McTernan (the former club goalkeeper who passed away) was very hard.

“Look you’ve got to remember the good days. It’s a nice feeling. We know what Duhallow are going through. We were there last year. It can make you stronger if you learn from those mistakes. I think there’s a great bunch of lads here and this is a domino effect for the club please God, that we can push on in other sectors like the senior hurling section. It’s just an unbelievable day.”

Michael Shields with the trophy after St Finbarr’s triumphed.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

As opponents Duhallow were a divisional outfit, St Finbarr’s were guaranteed before the match to be Cork’s representatives in the club championship.

They will now enter that arena as champions against Dr Crokes or Moyle Rovers in a semi-final tie on 11 November.

“I’ll be honest, we’ll have a job getting a team together after the week this crowd will go on,” laughed Keane.

“They’d some week last year after losing so I can imagine what they’ll do after winning. Look our first and foremost goal this year was to try and win the county.

“We’ve done that, we’re missing a few players and they showed their resolve that we were still able to pull it over the line. We’ll gather together the middle of next week and we’ll see how we’ll go.”

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