IT’S every player’s dream to play in an All-Ireland final and Kilmurry-Ibrickane captain Enda Coughlan is no different.
From his juvenile days, he has always wanted to play in an All-Ireland final and this goal will be fulfilled next week when he leads the Clare champions against St Gall’s.
“Patrick Murrihy started us out here around 1990 and while All-Irelands weren’t on our mind then, it’s a dream come through. It’s every young fella’s dream to play there for his club and county and thankfully that dream has come through for us now, the Clare champion’s skipper said this week.Like most Kilmurry-Ibrickane members, he believes that the national Féile title win a decade ago has played a big part in the senior team’s march to this year’s final. He played at U-14 level the previous year when Clare hosted the Féile and they were beaten by the Division 1 winners, Salthill.
“Kilmurry had a good quality team in when they went to Croke Park and won and five or six of them have made it through to senior level,” according to the Limerick-based garda.
“It all started with the club’s coaching policy. That’s how you get success. There was a lot of time and money put into us as young lads and thankfully it has payed off,” Enda said, adding that while they had lost some players, the majority have gone on to play senior for Kilmurry.
“Once they won in ’93, it showed that it could be done and as young fellas, we were there to see that victory. It made a difference to all of the young lads, We were only seven or eight and it made a difference to all of the young lads. We were looking at the likes of Horse (Aidan Moloney), Dermot Coughlan (his uncle) and my father (Danny), the family was involved. They would have been coaching us and teaching us and that’s where it all started,” Enda explained.
“I was lucky enough that Patrick O’Dwyer brought me into the panel in 2002. I was only a young fella and I thought he was actually joking when he asked me to come in. I was lucky enough we won the senior that year and I got to play some part in it. Once you win your first one, you always believe you can do it again. Thankfully now, we have done it a few times,” he said.
Enda claims that the defeat in last year’s Munster final spurred the team on this year. “I believe that you learn more from a defeat than a victory. We have had a tough few defeats down the years and the two that stand out are last year’s Munster final and the All-Ireland semi-final against Ballina. Both games were there for the winning and we didn’t win. I don’t know if it was down to experience, attitude or discipline but we didn’t win them. You learn a lot from those games and thankfully we have put that to good use,” the Kilmurry-Ibrickane captain reflected.
“You would have got some odds in the bookies on the final been between the Clare and Antrim champions. We have taken it game by game all the year. There is a great bond amongst the players and everyone gets on very well. We have become more like a family and because of that, you would go that extra yard for a fella. If he makes a mistake you will get behind him and he will do the same for you and when you have a team like that, that everyone knows what way we play, everyone on the same wavelength, then you have a great chance in any game,” he said.
The Kilmurry skipper didn’t get to the St Gall’s semi-final due to work commitments but he has seen them play over the years. “They are a good side. I have seen them play seven-a-side. They have some great players and they are a quality outfit – McGourty, Seán Kelly, the Gallaghers. We are going to have to play better than we did in the semi-final if we are going to win it,” he stressed.
“It’s just like one big family here. Everyone looks out for each other, everyone supports each other and that’s the reason you have success. It is really a parish effort and that was brought home to me before the Drom-Broadford game, when we were told that the pitch would have to be cut if we were to host the game. There were people here with push lawnmowers and that shows what it means to people like John Joe and Patrick Ryan, Patrick Wickham, Kevin Sexton, Kevin Killeen, Gerard and Michael Talty. If that game had been taken out of here who knows what would have happened,” according to Enda.
He has no doubt but that they will have a big following in Croke Park next week. “The will be coming back from various places for the game. It’s a great achievement to get there but there is no point in going up to these finals if you don’t believe that you can win them. We believe we can win and we are going up to win. It’s a great honour to be captain. There is no extra pressure. Anyone that has anything to say can say it. There are 34 leaders in the panel and anyone of them could have been captain. I was just lucky to get the honour this year. It would be a great honour for a small club to win the title and we are just sixty minutes away from doing it now”, he concluded.