Conahy Shamrocks revival continues
By Cian O’Connell
It has been a particularly interesting AIB All Ireland Junior Hurling Championship journey for Conahy Shamrocks.
After suffering a crushing defeat in the County decider against O’Loughlin Gaels, Conahy have responded in impressive fashion.
O’Loughlin’s second team couldn’t represent Kilkenny in the province, but Conahy are now embarking on a remarkable adventure with Croke Park the next stop. DCU student and Conahy Shamrocks talisman James Bergin acknowledges it has been a hugely exciting and rewarding stint.
“For everyone in the parish the topic of conversation since the Semi-Final has been about Saturday,” Bergin admits.
“Every young lad is out mad with the hurls trying to puck around so the buzz around the parish, everyone is on a high.
“It lifts the spirit of all the community so it is up to ourselves to park that, to get a performance out of ourselves and to come home with another trophy on Saturday.”
Working hard at underage level has been critical for Conahy Shamrocks according to Bergin, who stresses the importance of the graft put in throughout the past two decades.
“My age group, '98, a lot of the team would have been very strong growing up,” Bergin states. “We competed in A competition Under 14, Under 16 in Kilkenny. That was one of the first teams in Conahy's history competing in A because it is a small parish competing against town clubs.
“We competed in Feile na nGael finals in the county at Under 14, League Finals at Under 16 in A. We always competed well in A and you have a good crop, maybe five or six off that team who are making up the team on Saturday.
“That is backboning the team now so we are reaping the rewards of the work that has been done underage.”
Bergin is encouraged by the form the Shamrocks have shown either side of Christmas. “We got a great start in the Leinster Final, we got four goals in the first half and from then it was a game of two halves,” Bergin recalls. “We were 15 points up at half-time, but only won by four in the end. That tells the story itself.
We knew in the Semi-Final we would have to get a 60 minute performance out of ourselves, not just in patches. In the Semi-Final we played right until the final whistle, we came up against a dogged Eoghan Ruadh from Derry.
“We knew if we played direct hurling that our hurling would come out on top. Lucky it did and we didn't let the foot off the pedal for the whole match. We are looking forward to Saturday. Hopefully we can get a result.”
Bergin also hopes to play some part for DCU in the remainder of the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup, stressing how beneficial it is to be exposed to such a high level in college.
“Certainly, if you look at the teamsheet from last Sunday you see names that were nominated for Young Hurler of the Year in campaigns gone by,” Bergin says.
“You have lads there from Dublin, Wexford, Limerick, Kilkenny. Lads that are on inter-county panels weren't even able to get a run on Sunday. So that just shows the strength in depth it has.
“When you are training with the likes of those lads during the week in college it brings on everyone's hurling whether you are a club hurler or a county hurler. If you keep in that environment it will certainly reap benefits for yourself.”
That is proving to be the case so Bergin is relishing Conahy Shamrocks’ assignment against Russell Rovers at GAA headquarters.