BY JOHN MURPHY
TEDDY O’Mahony, the St Colum’s junior A hurling coach, has been to the championship well before, but sipped from the cup of defeat back in 1986.
Despite playing a starring role at full-back against Barryroe, when he kept Batt Whelton scoreless – a rare feat – he saw St Colum’s comprehensively defeated by 1-10 to 0-4 in their maiden SW JAHC final appearance. Fast-forward to 2013 and this time, while Colum’s came good to win the football decider, again disappointment was their lot when two first-half goals sounded their death knell against Dohenys in the hurling showdown.
But O’Mahony is hoping the wheel will turn full circle and certainly unbridled joy would be profound if Kilbree were to be overcome on Sunday and the famed ‘Flyer Nyhan’ found a new home in that great western Gaelic bastion at Kealkil.
‘This is our third appearance in a junior A hurling final,’ O’Mahony says.
‘We were beaten by Barryroe way back in 1986 in my playing days. We had a handy team, but never came back to contest finals afterwards. At least this team has better credentials, despite that setback in 2013 they are back with much the same personnel to have another crack at it.’
Against Plunkett’s in the penultimate stage, the Colum’s defence was rock solid, while their hurling style exhibited was refreshing, one-touch and expansive, something O’Mahony revealed they had worked hard on to perfect.
‘We are on the road since January,’ he says.
‘We have been to Bantry doing a lot of ball-work on the astroturf for two months and I believe it has improved our hurling touch. People always remarked that Colum’s have great spirit, but lacked the hurling finesse. I feel we are steadily addressing this problem.’
The Colum’s managerial team is completed by Jimmy O’Sullivan, Timmy O’Sullivan and Seán O’Shea. Another benefit cited by O’Mahony is that niggling injuries are clearing up, with big players coming good when needed.
‘Our injury count has improved,’ O’Mahony says, ‘we just have a couple of players to come back into the squad. Alan O’Connor’s goal was vital against Plunkett’s but that great run by Séamus McHugh set it up. The defence was generally very good, with David O’Mahony outstanding. We needed goals and Alan got one.’
O’Donovan is fully aware, however, that Kilbree won’t be easy to beat. ‘They beat us in the league earlier on in the year,’ he says.
‘I was very impressed by their structure and hurling ability. They are a well organised team and will pose major problems for us.
‘They have a nice mix of youth and experience and Kevin O’Donovan is the consummate professional, he’ll have them brilliantly prepared, I can guarantee that.
‘They are running up big scores and while our defence was good against Plunkett’s, Kilbree will present an entirely different challenge.’