Scally relishing Blacks and Whites adventure in Kilkenny
By Cian O’Connell
Eddie Scally just laughs when realising how chaotic Saturday will be. In charge of the Blacks and Whites, who face Commercials in an AIB Leinster Club JHC semi-final at UPMC Nowlan Park, Scally has another event as general manager of Gowran Park – Kilkenny GAA’s race day fundraiser.
“We are hosting the Kilkenny GAA fundraiser on Saturday, at the same time we have the hurling match at Nowlan Park with my club,” Scally says.
“So thankfully the directors and team I have at Gowran Park are working really hard to facilitate me to leave. I will have to go in to start the day with the races, work until 10 or a quarter past 12 before flying into Nowlan Park do the match and get back out then for the last of the race day.”
It is a hectic schedule, but Scally wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a decade since Scally moved from the midlands to Kilkenny.
“I moved to Kilkenny 10 years ago now, you cannot, but get caught up in Kilkenny's life and culture,” Scally states. “Hurling is to the forefront of everything in Kilkenny, in every parish and every club. It was something I wasn't used to myself, everywhere kids go they bring their hurls with them.
“It is brilliant. Even for me and my family it was such a great way to get involved in the community, locally for ourselves to get involved in the GAA club. The minute we did that then you are part of the family straightaway then. It is brilliant. Hurling in Kilkenny is right up there with eating, drinking, and breathing.”
Racing and hurling connected too when Scally became manager of the Blacks and Whites in Skeoughvosteen. “They actually had a race meeting in Gowran Park, a fundraiser at a time when I was involved with the Wexford camogie team,” Scally recalls.
“It was just by chance, they asked me would I be interested in coming to talk to them to look after their mens team for a while.
“That is how the crossover happened, the connection was made through the horse racing at the track and obviously my involvement with Wexford camogie, I was lucky to be involved with them at the time. It just went from there, I have been with Blacks and Whites since.”
There was significant potential in the club according to Scally. “I felt it over the last couple of years - Mooncoin knocked us out of the championship last year,” Scally says.
“We ran them really close, they went on to win an All-Ireland. I thought that we were nearly there, but there was a bit of noise outside the camp, people questioning our methods, the way we were setting up, things like that. I knew myself with the lads we had and the younger players getting that bit more mature and more games under their belt, I knew there was something in the lads.”
Scally wanted Blacks and Whites to capture the Kilkenny junior title. “It would have killed me to walk away,” he adds. “As much as I would have loved them to win, I'd love to be there when they did it. That is why I said I'd do one more year, to give it everything. I brought a really good backroom team with me, John Byrne was with me and Pat Nolan.
“I brought in the former Wexford camogie manager Matthew Flynn-O'Connor and I brought in Rory Treacy from Galway. It just gave us a bit of a list with the backroom being a bit different. From there the lads made a huge difference in kicking it on for us.”
To win any piece of silverware in Kilkenny is a real mission according to Scally. “We were only talking about it the last night at training,” Scally replies. “We are training nearly a whole year now, we started back in January this year. I've been involved with the team here for a long time, this is my fourth year. So a lot of years work has gone into it.
“In Kilkenny it is just so competitive, at every grade in Kilkenny, every game in Kilkenny, they are all played like Championship matches. Winning the Junior for us was the biggest target we had all year, that was the dream to try to do it.
“Once you win it, you automatically, because of the nature of the beast where you are coming out of, you are expected then to do well and represent Kilkenny very well in Leinster. So we have put pressure on ourselves to go as far as we can in this competition.”
Hurling deep into November means different tasks must be embraced, but Scally is simply delighted to be still involved.
“Genuinely, all the problems that come with hurling in November, trying to find pitches, floodlights, trying to find pitches that are playable - these are the best headaches ever,” he says.
“This is what you dream about because you know if you are still hurling in November competitively, it means you are getting closer to an All-Ireland series championship game.
“It is the stuff of dreams, I really hope it doesn't end at the weekend, I hope we can kick on, to go that bit further.”