BY JOHN MURPHY
BAL manager Brendan O’Driscoll knows what it takes to win the Flyer Nyhan Cup – he was involved when the club last won the South West JAHC title in 2000 (they also won the title in 1997 and ’98, a glorious era).
O’Driscoll brings a wealth of experience to the Ballinascarthy set-up.
A teacher at Scoil An Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, he served a three-year tenure as Coaching Officer with Cork County Board, while he also was board delegate for CIT for over 15 years.
O’Driscoll was involved in 2000 when Ballinascarthy defeated Barryroe after a replay, their last title triumph at this level, so he is hoping come Sunday that it will be a case of double delight.
‘I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in this decider, both for the players and mentors, but also for the people of the area,’ O’Driscoll said.
‘Sixteen years is a long time waiting to get into a final. The buzz and expectancy is fantastic, it has manifested itself with the U21s, the minors and all the lower grades, and there’s a real feel-good atmosphere in the club.
‘After last year’s disappointment we set a target of one game at a time, both league and championship, targeting improvement in both hurling skills and commitment. We have seen great strides made to date, but the real test will come against an experienced Clonakilty side.’
Against both Mathúnas and Kilbree, Ballinascarthy overcame real tests, and O’Driscoll believes the seeds for this season were sowed last year.
‘I feel what happened in 2016 had a lot to do with that,’ he said.
‘A few weeks after the defeat by Dohenys the lads got together and said they would give the league a real go. We went on to beat Mathúnas after a replay in the final. It emphasised to me they had plenty of character and heart. They felt they had let themselves and Ballinascarthy down last year and were anxious to make amends.’
Clonakilty will present a major challenge in terms of hurling experience to a youthful Ballinascarthy team, and O’Driscoll admits they will find Clon difficult to overcome.
‘There remains little doubt that Clonakilty will prove the acid test for our young team,’ he said.
‘They have Cork player David Lowney, a real talent, in their ranks, most of the others have already won medals at this level so they’re vastly experienced while Clon being out of the senior football championship allows them to concentrate solely on hurling.
‘We will have our hands full, but we are going into this final not just to contest it, but to win it.’