WITH THE PAIN of last year’s final defeat to Clara still fresh in the memory, O’Loughlin Gaels centre-back Brian Hogan couldn’t contain his delight after his side scored a surprise victory against Ballyhale Shamrocks in this year’s Kilkenny SHC final.
The former Cats defender was beaming after their 0-19 to 1-12 victory against TJ Reid, Henry Shefflin and Co yesterday, and struggled to explain how important the victory was to the club, their first county title since 2010.
“I can’t say how much this means, it’s unreal,” club captain Hogan told Newstalk’s Oisin Langan after the game in Nowlan Park.
“It’s always worth it. In Kilkenny, they are [county titles] so bloody hard to get.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some soul searching done over the winter.
“The panel were just so focused after the disappointment of last year.”
Hogan and his team-mates formed a united front this campaign, and embarked on a fundraising mission to build a gym in the club.
But it was a speech from his fellow stalwart Martin ‘Gorta’ Comerford after last year’s final that Hogan felt really brought the players together.
“Anyone who is the dressing room last year after we lost to Clara will know where that [motivation] came from.
“Gorta was captain last year and he said some words in the dressing room.
“We didn’t talk about it all year until today really. It was emotional. He just said, ‘look lads it’s in our hands to come back next year and it’s a test of what we’re made of’.
“We didn’t make a big deal of it during the year and today was the day to bring it back to the forefront, to use it in a constructive way.
“And we did I think. You could see that in the second half. There was no way we were losing that match, no way.”
An emotional Comerford, who scored two points in the win, was equally delighted but keen to highlight how difficult the Kilkenny crown is to win, especially considering the gaps in the club schedule.
Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership.
Become a Member
“The Kilkenny championship is not conducive to many games sometimes.
“There are two parts to the season. You start off in April and then there’s a big break.
“We could go 12 weeks without a competitive game which is absolutely ridiculous but we just have to try to peak at the right time.
“It’s difficult to get that right. And we did, and we’re absolutely delighted to get over the line.”
Comerford singled out Mark Bergin for particular praise after the forward chipped in with 11 points from placed balls.
Mark Bergin celebrates the win.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
“Mark is always a star for us, he’s a great club man,” Comerford added.
“He hit the frees spot on, one after the other.
“I suppose when he’s up against a free-taker of TJ Reid’s standard you want to be on your game. Thankfully Mark hit frees from all angles.
“It’s a dagger in the opposition’s heart every time they go over.
“After last year’s pain and hurt we’re delighted to put the club back in a good position going forward.”
The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!