LAST year when Confey were beaten by Celbridge in the Senior Hurling Championship final their manager Ed Holland wasn’t in St Conleth’s Park. Work with Irish Defence Forces had taken him out of the county and Liam Dowd took the reigns for the day, writes Ruth Chambers.
Fast forward twelve months and Holland was on the sideline to watch his side beat Celbridge and he was thrilled to have been in Newbridge to taste victory last Sunday evening.
“Unfortunately last year I was away and things didn’t go well for them. The manager is important and on county final day you obviously want to be there and I’m delighted I was here for today,” said the Cork native.
He added: “It’s an absolutely super feeling. Championship, when you’re involved in the GAA, is what you live for. Celbridge have set a super standard in Kildare hurling over the last number of years and we knew what we were going to be up against. Thankfully everything went right for us.”
Confey’s gave the rest a hint of what was to come at the very start of the championship when they beat Celbridge in the preliminary round after a replay in Leixlip. Holland says the victory gave his side confidence and impetus they needed to go on and win the competition outright.
“We signalled our intent at the start of the year (by beating Celbridge in the preliminary round) I suppose and that added an air of confidence to our lads. They knew that that hadn’t succeeded in beaten them over the last number of years and the fact that they knew they could helped them. That was our best performance up to today,” remarked Holland.
The disappointment of losing last year also gave Confey great ammunition to come back and make amends in 2012.
“When you lose, particularly a final, that defeat gets stored in the memory back and that certainly added to our hunger for today,” admitted the Confey boss, who is from the Fr O’Neill’s club in Cork.
“Celbridge have been the standard bearers in Kildare for a few years now and they have inspired all the teams to up their game. To motivate yourselves against them, because of that, is easy and that’s a credit to them at the end of the day,” he added.
Celbridge might have been the favourites ahead of the decider but almost instantly Confey put paid to that. From the second John O’Neill hit the net Confey were on top and that’s the way it stayed throughout.
“The goal set the platform and I think the exact opposite happened. It is something we focused on, we wanted to win the first half and the good start was crucial,” admitted Holland.
“To beat Celbridge, because of the standard they have set, is a huge pleasure but the performance from us was excellent. We wouldn’t have beaten Celbridge if we didn’t perform like that,” he commented.
Up next is a Leinster Intermediate Club Championship meeting with the Meath kingpins in Newbridge on October 28 and Holland wants to give the provincial competition a right good rattle.
“I think Kildare hurling teams, and that’s a credit to Celbridge, are absolutely capable of competing in a Leinster championship. Celbridge showed that last year when they were beaten in the final by the eventual All Ireland champions. We’ll let the lads enjoy tonight but when the Leinster Championship kicks off we will give it our best,” he admitted.