Broadford captain Cathal Chaplin has missed most of the season due to injury but the 29-year-old is ready to leave it all on the line this Saturday as his side look to capture intermediate glory.
Chaplin made his first start of the championship in the semi-final against Smith O’Briens and helped his side claw back a tough Killaloe side. Tenacity has been the backbone of this Broadford team all year and it has gotten them out of some sticky situations. Broadford have also never panicked despite trailing in their last three games, a very good trait to possess in a final.
“We have matured an awful lot in the last few years being down in intermediate. I’m the second oldest on the team and I’m not even 30 yet, so it shows the age profile of our squad. The young lads have grown up a lot in the sense of they now realise that even if a game isn’t going our way, we can still put in the work rate and see that we can come out the right side of a battle then.
“Last year against Feakle we really panicked, to be honest. We ended up throwing away the game. Every year is a learning curve for us, and we have learned not to panic from that, and that if we stay in a game then we will get our chance. It’s just about taking those chances then when they present themselves,” Cathal said.
Taken their chances they certainly have. Broadford have left their fans sweat in a many a game this year and Cathal says watching the games was hard, but that not being able to influence the quarter-final against Sixmilebridge was, “absolute torture”.
“We’ve played nice hurling this year, but in saying that, there hasn’t been a puck of a ball in any of the games since we beat Ruan the first day. We will have to improve an awful lot if we want to win
Cathal says that both sides are well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and despite the fact Broadford got one over on St Joseph’s earlier in the year, it won’t count for much in the final.
“We know each other very well. We played a bit down through the years. They beat us in the 2016 final. I don’t think the game earlier in the year will count for too much. It showed there is nothing between the teams but both teams have improved an awful lot since then. There is never really too much in it when we play,” continued Cathal.
Hurling is the centre of the universe in East Clare and this is definitely true for Broadford, a fact that is not lost on Cathal or his teammates. But Cathal won’t let the pressure of expectation weigh him, or his team down.
“Hurling is the be all and end all in Broadford. There’s not much else to do out here. It is the focal point. The Minors had a semi-final last weekend and the minute that finished it was all about this Saturday. There will be people down watching us train, just to see what we’re like. It’s great for the young people in the Parish to see us in a final too.
“All we can hope is that we turn up on the day and put in a good performance. Look, if we perform and win it’s great. But, if we perform and are beaten, then it is a stepping-stone for next year, and we’ll try and get back there again. We’ll worry about senior after we win an intermediate, whether it be this year or in the future,” Cathal stated.
Cathal says the difference in the squad this year is the attitude the younger players have brought to the table and how professional they are.
“It is great to see the young lads there. The likes of Paddy Donnellan and such. Paddy doesn’t care who is in front of him, young or old, he wants to be playing ahead of them. The young lads have brought that. Since they won the U-21s at the start of the year, some of them have really kicked on and embraced their chance. I think there are six or seven U-21s that have played intermediate championship this year, that shows you the hunger they have.
“Another dynamic I suppose is all the brothers you have on the team. The Donnellans, there’s me and my two brothers, Stiofáin is our first cousin, the Whelans, the Taylors, the Moloneys etc. It is special to win anything but to win with your brother makes it even better. Craig and I were around when we won the intermediate in 2008, but we haven’t won anything with Darren so it would be really nice to do that,” Cathal finished.