Sunday 15 December 2019

Three-in-a-row isn't a factor

SHC final preview

Martin Dempsey (left) with Frank Flannery, Pierce Redmond, Alan O'Connor and Ray Harris. Dubliner Shane O'Brien has also come on board with the champions this year as coach
Martin Dempsey (left) with Frank Flannery, Pierce Redmond, Alan O'Connor and Ray Harris. Dubliner Shane O'Brien has also come on board with the champions this year as coach

Dean Goodison

There probably isn't a secret to success, simply because there's not one specific blueprint. Some can make a system produce desired results, while others wouldn't dream of such an approach.

Oulart-The Ballagh have their own way of doing things and, while it's not for everyone, it clearly is for them; just look at the results. That's what makes the words of joint manager Martin Dempsey so interesting as he looked ahead to Sunday's final.

'It's nothing to do with three-in-a-row,' he stated, dismissing any such achievement as insignificant when it comes to the challenge of beating St. Martin's. 'It's just another game. It's a county final, no one has played it before, it hasn't been won, so it's just another game.'

That says a lot. Teams that don't have the history of this Oulart-The Ballagh side might focus on past success, try to channel it for a needed confidence boost. For the champs, confidence doesn't need to be instilled, as success has ingrained it and it hovers contentedly in the sub-conscious.

It's been a huge help already this season. The year didn't start as well as it might have but early difficulties have provided a reaction.

'We had to settle down to business. When you lose the first one it's a bit of a battle so it was just a matter of getting to a quarter-final and then when you get there you just take it game by game,' Dempsey said.

It seemed serene, as there were close games in a tough group stages after that first loss but this Oulart-The Ballagh side have that habit of doing enough to get that win. Yet the threat of Rapparees in the semi-final was one they took very seriously.

'We knew the Rapps were going to bring a big fight to us, they are very athletic you know, strong down the middle with some very good hurlers,' Dempsey said.

'If you look at it, all the teams that were left in it (at the semi-final stage), the Rapps, the Martin's, Gorey, they are all the teams that have been there in the Minor in the last few years and they are all coming at Senior now.'

The Piercestown-based club are the one of the blossoming trio that carry the greatest expectations. 'Youth' has been the buzzword associated with them for a while but Dempsey is quick to point out the experience they have gained in recent seasons.

'They are a very good team,' he said. 'They have won all their games bar one, they are young but they have experience too. They are not all children, they have a good blend of experience and they almost all played in a final a couple of years ago. They are a very good team and that's why they are in the final.'

A big factor in the game could be the conditions. It's difficult to know what to expect at the end of October, with the wind more often than not funneling down the pitch. It's not something that either team can control and the Oulart-The Ballagh joint-manager isn't going to lose any sleep over it.

'It's hard to know, the last two games we've played in Wexford Park, the quarter-final and semi-final, were two fabulous days, no breeze, no nothing. It probably doesn't look like it's going to be that way in the final now, you just have to adapt to conditions.

'Both teams are used to hurling in Wexford Park, there's usually wind, we'll just see how it goes on the day,' Dempsey noted.

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