Sixmilebridge’s Junior B hurlers embark on a new mission as they aim to come through a Munster quarter final against Kerry’s St. Brendan’s Ardfert this Sunday (throw in 12.30pm).
Chaplin admits this competition, hosted by Killeedy GAA club, offers Sixmilebridge’s squad a unique opportunity to sample a provincial competition; one he hopes his squad will embrace.
“It’s bonus territory but at the same time when you are in something you want to go far. Lads might not get to compete in Munster again. With Intermediate or Junior A you can’t enter a second team in those competitions.
“Even when we won the final we knew before leaving that day of this tournament.
“Scariff reached the Munster final last year and we put it to the lads that the opportunity was there if we put our shoulder to the wheel. We are representing our club in Munster so it’s a fantastic opportunity.”
With Sixmilebridge fielding four teams at adult level, the Junior grades have been used to give the talented youngsters coming though an opportunity to experience senior hurling.
“We had a big turnaround at the beginning of the year. When Syl O’Connor was appointed chairperson, we looked at the lads coming through. There were a huge cohort of 18 to 19-year-olds who we had marked for the third team (Junior B).”
“The aim was for these lads to develop. With COVID their game time was at a minimum. Between Junior league and Championship, the U21s and everything else some guys have had about 30 games this year which is great for development.”
Chaplin insists that although they are aiming to give young players a chance, they still had to earn their place on the starting XV. He credits experienced players such as captain Paul Fitzpatrick for keeping standards high.
“We have a mix of youth and experience. The young guys were not just handed a spot on the team. They had to go out and perform.
“We have guys like Paul Fitzpatrick who has a Munster medal from 2000. He has been over 20 years with the club. Then you have guys like David O’Connor. Those guys are adding to it.”
Chaplin states he will have a full deck to choose from for this Sunday’s game against St. Brendan’s Ardfert.
With a lack of footage and information about the Kerry side, the beauty of games such as this is a player’s and management team’s ability to adapt to what is unfolding in front of them will be tested.
The Sixmilebridge boss feels that his side need to focus on themselves and play the game instead of the occasion.
“We will go in on the day and treat them with the utmost respect. We will be looking for a performance from our own lads.
“At Junior and Intermediate it can be hard to get info so we will be targeting our own side of the house.”
Chaplin credits hard work behind the scenes for enabling the club to field four adult sides as he insists the workload involved in ensuring everything runs smoothly cannot be overlooked.
“It is difficult for management teams. The seniors are the top of the tree. Then with Intermediate it has a knock on effect for Junior B which in turn has a knock on effect for Junior C.
“No one is being blaggarded though. Nobody is playing 10 or 15 minutes and then being ruled out of another grade. Those who went up to the other squads were given loads of playing time.”
“It takes huge work and co-operation from everyone. A lot of people have put their shoulder to the wheel to make sure we can do it.”