Youthful Raharney on the rise
By Cian O'Connell
With a second Westmeath SHC title in three years secured Raharney are now keen to make an impact on the Leinster stage again.
The highly respected Johnny Greville continues to produce decent teams and Raharney, so unfortunate to lose a thriller against Offaly’s Kilcormac-Killoughey in 2014, have taken scalps before.
St Mullins, who recently completed a three in a row in Carlow, will be treated with the utmost respect, but Greville is relishing Raharney’s next assignment.
“We are looking forward to it now; your first aim every year, I suppose, is to win your County title, anything after that then is probably a bonus,” Greville told GAA.ie.
“We are looking forward to it because we feel we have a bit of unfinished business in Leinster aswell. We have been unlucky over the years. We have got to a couple of Leinster Semi-Finals and been on top and maybe then in the last 10 minutes we have just come up short against Oulart The Ballagh and Kilcormac-Killoughey in 2010 and 2014.”
Kilcormac-Killoughey just fended off Raharney’s brave challenge, a game that Greville remembers well. “That year we had been finishing games very strong and that was probably the only game in the year that we didn't finish strong in,” Greville recalls.
“There is a lot of overlapping with players because we have dual players and they probably just ran out of steam in the last 10 minutes that day. It was bitterly disappointing because when we looked at the scoreboard with 10 minutes to go we were well in the game and maybe looked like we were going to win it.”
In recent years Raharney have placed a significant emphasis on developing youngsters with the emergence of talented players such as the Doyle twins and James Goonery offering encouragement.
“It is something that some managers might allude to it, but part of the process of being a manager of a senior club team is to build for the future,” Greville admits.
“I've been lucky enough to be over my own club minor team in 2013, I was over Raharney from 2010 until 2013 and then I went with Westmeath. I was over my own minor teams which would have included these young lads like James Goonery and the two Doyles.
“We won the under 21s with that same team this year so the work is being done in the club at underage level. From history you see teams going with the older statesmen until they cannot walk, but I suppose in Raharney we decided that we have to give these young lads a chance because there are so many other sports there for them.
“We have to hang the carrot there for them to show that senior hurling is on the cards especially when the chance of success is there.”
Greville guided Westmeath to a Leinster Minor Semi-Final in 2015 reckons the midlanders are making significant strides. “Definitely, the proof is in the pudding,” Greville says.
“I was double jobbing for two years being over Raharney and the Westmeath minors. The amount of players that I saw and the amount of quality players Westmeath have is phenomenal.
“We beat Wexford in their back yard, the occasion got to us in the Semi-Final that year in Cusack Park against Dublin. It stood to them when they beat Kilkenny in Cusack Park in the Leinster Under 21 Championship, they didn't shy away from it, the big team didn't matter to them.
“We are starting to breed players with a bit of belief in Westmeath, they believe they can dine at the top table with the top teams.”