Redmond hails Flannery role in OTB success
By Paul Keane
David Redmond, Oulart-The Ballagh's inspirational county midfielder, has hailed manager and Cork coach Frank Flannery as the vital ingredient in their historic run to the AIB All-Ireland club semi-finals.
Wexford champions Oulart suffered an agonising four Leinster club final defeats in a row between 2010 and 2013 and, in 2014, bowed out at of their own county championship at the quarter-final stage with a shock defeat to Glynn-Barntown.
Redmond said that 2014 season was notable for the amount of 'crisis' meetings in the camp after games and the 29-year old admitted that he personally was finding hurling difficult as the squad struggled.
Flannery had been involved in a coaching capacity with Oulart and agreed to stay on as manager for the 2015 season which culminated in a first ever provincial title success.
The dream is far from over either with Oulart aiming to secure a famous St Patrick's Day AIB All-Ireland club final place by overcoming Munster champions Na Piarsaigh tomorrow.
"Sure he (Flannery) is the main reason, he's the main reason we won the Leinster, without him I don't think we would have won it," said Redmond, who insisted a fresh, outside, voice was required at that stage.
"100 per cent yeah. He's been a breath of fresh air. He made changes that nobody else would have made. I mean, no disrespect but Tomas Dunne, who scored the goal in the Leinster final, wouldn't have been playing in a Leinster final previously.
"He was a full-back for the intermediates, that kind of thing. But Frank had said earlier on in the year that Tomas Dunne would be playing, if we got into Leinster, Tomas Dunne would be playing.
Sure he (Flannery) is the main reason, he's the main reason we won the Leinster, without him I don't think we would have won it
"So that just shows how well planned everything was. If we could hold onto Cork for another year, that would be a dream. Maybe Wexford can do a job on Cork in the Championship early on! I don't know. Ideally, we could hold onto him for another year but sure we'll see how we get on in the All-Ireland first."
Redmond revealed how important it was for Oulart to finally banish their provincial jinx when they did, beating Cuala of Dublin in the final back in November.
He said that even rival club members were offering support to Oulart after their succession of defeats though rejected the claim made by some that Oulart had been 'bottlers'. Colleague Keith Rossiter spoke in the wake of the Leinster final win that some had labelled the club 'Oulart The Bottlers'.
"To be called a bottler, I don't think anyone in any job or anything really wants to be called a bottler," said Redmond. "You're basically calling someone a coward.
"If you've got a team there and there's young lads, and with the mentality of Irish culture, you don't want to be seen as soft or a coward, that's a big thing that drove us on.
"It was there and there was a lot of emotional stress from the Leinster finals and that's probably the thing that was holding us back. It was a different approach this year in our whole set-up and we enjoyed it.
"Before we even got to a county final we were enjoying ourselves for once. We were enjoying our hurling, there was a good spirit in the camp and me, personally, I enjoyed the hurling for the first time in a long time."
Redmond said there's a case to be made that previous Oulart teams had better players but insisted the power of the current collective group is stronger than ever.
"I've heard recently that we had better teams four and five years ago, better players, but we actually have a better team now, a better balanced team than we ever did," he said.
"Just because we had a better calibre of player, you could say, years ago, doesn't mean we had a better team so right now we're playing as a team and we've played as a team most of the year. Our team has probably changed, our style of player has changed but I think overall you could kind of say there's a stubbornness about us."