If St Breckan’s are going to upset the apple cart on Sunday afternoon and take down Templenoe, then midfield dynamo Dale Masterson is going to play a key role in that task.
The county man has been in sparking form all year as he formed a potent partnership with the bustling Liam Tierney that has seen the North Clare men on the brink of provincial glory.
He is looking forward to another huge occasion for the club.
“It is going to be massive and everyone can’t wait for it. We have had two weeks of a build up to it but with the U-21’s losing out last Sunday, we are hoping that they can bottle up that hurt and turn it into a positive now this weekend so that they can dust themselves down and go again. You can be sure that Donie is not preparing us to go down there just to make up the numbers. The minute he walks into a room he just has that presence. He is a Breckan’s man through and through and that rubs off on all the players. He just has that vibe and it is brilliant. We are on the crest of wave now at the moment and it is exciting times for the club” said the Galway-based Garda.
Garrihy will be without one of his key men as Evan Barrett looks set to be sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered in the second half of Sunday’s U-21 final loss. With so many young players coming through the club at the moment, that depth of talent will be needed to take on the Kingdom side and Masterson feels that they have plenty exciting players to call on.
He said: “It is so encouraging to see these young players coming through. The minors were unlucky to lose their final by a point and the same thing happened the U-21’s then last Sunday. I know they will be deflated and talking to a few of them, they really were devastated. It just has to bring positives going forward at the same time. There were 10 of those lads in the U-21 final who will be involved with the intermediates on Sunday and that is great to see. There are a few older lads but the vast majority are all around 21 or 22 years old and that is positive for the future”.
Masterson has been in outstanding form throughout the year for both club and county, and he feels his experience with the county squad in particular has paid dividends at club level.
“Being in with the county last year has been massive for me on a personal level and Colm is brilliant. I think it has brought me on leaps and bounds and I am enjoying it. The way the campaign has panned out in terms of having games week on week helps to add to that enjoyment too. That is why you get involved and it is brilliant really” he noted.
It has been a welcome turnaround in fortunes for St Breckan’s as they bounced back from relegation at the first time of asking before going on to reach Sunday’s decider. Masterson says while it was a long road, it is one that everyone put their shoulder to the wheel for.
“I was part of the panel for six or seven years and we had been flirting with relegation and last year we just could not buy a victory. Last year losing was a habit for us but this year winning has become one and when that happens and lads start buying into what the management want, it all adds up. In the space of 12 months, the turnaround in the whole club has been great across the board. It was really important too that we came back up first time, because that is the critical year. When we were staring down the barrel of intermediate last year, it was a really low place for us but we got together and said we would give it one right crack” he said.
This campaign has also seen him reunited with a familiar face as county goalkeeping coach Declan O’Keeffe has been drafted in to help with the cause. Masterson feels the former All-Ireland winner with Kerry has been a huge addition to their setup.
“I am sure he will have had his ear to the ground down in Kerry this week anyway. He is brilliant and I could not speak highly enough about him. His knowledge of the game is second to none and he has done it all. I saw it in the dressing room the last day and we hadn’t been going well. He got up and spoke and everyone just lit up listening to him. He has that aura about him that when he speaks, everyone listens and he is a rock of sense. It was a masterstroke from Donie to bring him and he has been brilliant for us. I worked with him in the Clare squad and I was delighted when I heard he was coming in with us and he got a great welcome from everyone” he concluded.