BY KEVIN O’BRIEN
ON Friday, May 5th last, Schull Community College (SCC) won their first ever county title in hurling. A one-point win over Boherbue CS to see them win the Cork U16 D hurling championship was remarkable in itself for the college, but the team also contained a player from Barcelona who is currently living in Ballydehob.
Bernat Gil Bernades (16) lined out a corner forward for SCC on the day. Bernat moved to Ballydehob last August to learn English for a year.
He is currently living with the Hodnett family in Couragurteen, Ballydehob. He is a sports enthusiast and grew up playing a variety of sports, including squash and soccer, in his native Barcelona. Bernat was quickly introduced to the Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling by Patrick and Liam Hodnett from his host family) who are members of Gabriel Rangers minor and U16 teams respectively. However it was hurling that Bernat took a particular interest in: ‘I started hitting the ball around the garden with Liam and Patrick and then they asked me if I wanted to join Fastnet Gaels and I joined up with them.’
Bernat joined Patrick and Liam in going to training and, thanks to the sessions with Gabriel Rangers stalwart Lukie Nolan, Bernat’s interest in hurling kept on growing: ‘After training with Fastnet Gaels, I got the opportunity to join the school team and Mr (Emmet) Vaughan, the SCC hurling manager, accepted me into the team.’
Bernat observed that hurling was a very fast sport and he took it one step at a time to learn to play the sport: ‘Picking up the ball was the most difficult part for me and trying to balance it on the hurl.’
His eagerness to improve was evident, as the Hodnett family would testify, he would spend ‘the entire evening after school hitting a sliotar off the wall.’ The Hodnett family’s dog, Lily, has been kept busy chasing sliotars Bernat pucked around the house.
SCC team manager Emmet Vaughan noticed the hard work Bernat was putting in at training and at home and rewarded his hard work by giving him a starting place at corner-forward in the county final against Boherbue CS.
He repaid his manager’s faith by scoring Schull’s first point of the game.
SCC were 12 points down at half-time before igniting a tremendous comeback to win the county title. Bernat says he couldn’t have done it without the help he received throughout the year: ‘I’m so happy to have won a county medal, but it would have been impossible without Liam, Patrick and Mr Vaughan’s help.’
Bernat is packing his bags now, as he will be returning to Spain, but that doesn’t mean it will be the end of his hurling days, as they have brought him to the attention of Barcelona Gaels, a club in the city of Barcelona, and Bernat is hoping to join up with the Catalonian club. ‘I would like to join, when I go back (to Spain). I will ask about joining up with them,’ he promised.