By Cian O’Connell
These truly are interesting times for St Fechin’s.
The Louth SHC title was retained, but a couple of wins in the AIB Leinster Club JHC provides a drop of winter hope.
Undoubtedly a stern assignment awaits away to Wexford outfit Horeswood on Saturday, but chairperson John McEvoy acknowledges this is a particularly special time for those keep hurling teams going in the club.
Contesting for Louth hours has been on the agenda since 2015. “Before we lost the four we won two, then we won two more,” McEvoy says about the recent record. “We have some new players in, but a good core of them would be there for the whole eight finals.”
To generate a bit of momentum in the province is an impressive feat. “It is a great boost and a great achievement,” McEvoy replies.
“Within the county you are just playing the same few teams so it is nice to have a bit of competition from outside. Hopefully we can keep the winning going on Saturday.”
McEvoy highlights the work being carried out by juvenile coaches in St Fechin’s. “They've had a good year, overall, a bit like with the football, you get a good group that might come along,” McEvoy says.
“I'm told that we have a very good crop of young players ready to step up. Underage we are strong, we won an U15 competition the last night. When they come into the club they are encouraged to play both from a young age. Some stay at it, some pick it up when they see it being played.
“We had an U13 group this year beaten in a Meath league competition, they were beaten in the final. Some of them might only have taken it up when they were 10 or 11, they are encouraged from when they join at a young age to play both. We are strong at underage and are happy with the progress.”
Having returned to the senior ranks in football it has been an action packed year for St Fechin’s with McEvoy delighted how the club motoring.
“We'd have about four of the starting XV in football would play hurling, a few more would be in the panel,” he explains. “Three of the lads that won the Lory Meagher with the county play football and hurling.”
There is a strong footballing tradition in St Fechin’s with McEvoy sampling senior glory as a player in the 80s. “We won in 83 and 84, I was playing myself at that time, we were very strong,” he recalls.
“We stayed senior up until the turn of the century. We went down to junior and it took us a while to get intermediate. We were beaten in two intermediate finals before we got back to senior. We won two championships and a league in the 80s so football is strong.
“Development wise since the end of the 1990s we bought a new field, we have three pitches, and we have done a lot of development over the intervening years.
"We have just finished a community centre so there is a lot of work going on, it is very busy club. Any night in the car park you'd be struggling to find a place to park in the summer months.”
That is most certainly the sign of a healthy and vibrant club. How, though, have hurling and camogie become increasingly popular in the area? “When it started we had people from Waterford and Kilkenny got it going,” McEvoy responds.
“There would be an amount with hurling backgrounds living in the area, but at this stage it is probably 50-50, maybe even more of our own. It is strong in the club. All the kids that come in are encouraged, they don't all play from the very start.
“We are very proud of our achievements, there isn't many that are flying under the one flag. We have managed to keep everything under the one flag and the one committee, it works well with us.”