Preparations continue in Shinrone, where there is no shortage of red and white on display, ahead of a first Offaly SHC Final appearance since 1960.
Preparations continue in Shinrone, where there is no shortage of red and white on display, ahead of a first Offaly SHC Final appearance since 1960.

Shinrone preparing for first Offaly senior decider since 1960


By Cian O’Connell

“Years of hard work by a lot of people,” Shinrone chairperson Michael Cleary says about how the club has become relevant again at senior level in Offaly.

A first county final appearance since 1960 beckons for Shinrone, who face Kilcormac-Killoughey at St Brendan’s Park, Birr on Sunday afternoon.

Cleary is adamant about the critical roles being carried out at every level in the club. Ultimately that is why Shinrone are competing.

“Being on the executive is just one cog in the wheel, it is just one part of the club,” Cleary adds. “I keep saying it that you could be on the executive either as an officer or just on the executive, but you have people on the ground - the underage coaches - all of them would put in an awful lot more work in the club than a lot of us.

“We are there just - not to guide them - but to help them in any way we can, to just run the club by keeping the finances as good as we can.

“That is a major thing in any club - to keep things ticking over. Being on the executive is great, but the real pride is in the underage coaches all the way back through the years and the other senior, intermediate, and junior coaches back through the years. I think that is where the pride is.

“The amount of people actually working for the club is incredible, as it is in every other club. I think that we are lucky, we are just going through this period at the moment, and it is a good period for the club.”

Trevor Fletcher, who now manages Shinrone, played for Kilcormac-Killoughey in the 2013 AIB All Ireland Club SHC Final at Croke Park.
Trevor Fletcher, who now manages Shinrone, played for Kilcormac-Killoughey in the 2013 AIB All Ireland Club SHC Final at Croke Park.

History matters too and that is why the links with the 1960 Shinrone outfit, who were beaten in the decider by Drumcullen, matters according to Cleary.

“It is totally new territory for us, we haven't been there since 1960,” he explains. “Obviously you have very few people still alive from the team, we have four, five or six members of that original team still alive.

“Some of them are in America, but most of them are actually still living in Shinrone. So we had a chat with them during the week, it was great to hear their thoughts on what they went through in that match. It was different times coming up to the final, but there is great excitement.

“It is great for a community, it is really bringing the community together. It has always been a fairly tight knit community, but it is actually after tightening it up more and more.”

Sheer hard graft in the juvenile ranks has been critical in Shinrone’s rejuvenation. It is one of the reasons why optimism exists throughout Offaly too. “A lot of work has gone in at underage as has happened in all the other clubs around,” Cleary remarks.

“A huge amount of work has gone in at underage over a long number of years. We have been fairly successful at underage level considering the size of the club. The club is quite small, you are talking about two smallish national schools.

“So we have put in a lot of work, we had a good lunch of lads coming together. It just didn't happen in the last couple of years, we got over the line barely in cases this year, but we got there. Maybe you need that bit of luck too.”

Shinrone is being decorated in red and white ahead of Sunday's Offaly SHC Final.
Shinrone is being decorated in red and white ahead of Sunday's Offaly SHC Final.

Shinrone’s development has been assisted by manager Trevor Fletcher, who ironically featured for Kilcormac-Killoughey in the 2013 AIB All Ireland Club final loss against St Thomas’.

Fletcher was a highly regarded emerging hurler in Tipperary a couple of decades ago with Shinrone delighted with his contribution recently.

“Trevor is very good,” Cleary says. “Trevor treats all of the players the same. There is no difference whether you are the first person on the team or the last person on the team. That is one thing I found. When he started first he wasn't ringing about doing this, that or the other, he just goes and does the thing.

“He is very, very fair with everybody. He takes everybody else's views on board, but at the end of the day himself and his two selectors Eamonn [Hoctor] and Eoin [Maher], they are the people that carry out the work. Eamonn and Eoin, as selectors a huge amount of work goes on.

“They are at every training session, every practice match, every Championship match, meetings, the selectors are putting in huge work, fair play to those two lads.”

The Cleary family name features strongly in the Shinrone panel. “There happens to be a lot of Clearys at the moment, we were looking at the original team in 1960, I don't think there were any Clearys either on the panel or team,” Michael Cleary says.

“So at the moment we have a lot of Clearys - first, second, and third cousins. That is just the way it is. It is a good panel - one is as important as the other.” Such a united and spirited approach continues to serve Shinrone well.