St Flannan’s had to wait 13 years to get back to a Harty Cup final, but 2020 will be remembered as the year they prepared for two finals in the space of a fortnight.
The storms that have been battering the country in recent weeks saw the original fixture postponed well past the 11th hour as high winds and driving rain saw the game pulled less than an hour before throw-in in Mallow. This weekends Storm Jorge, a red weather alert, saw the game postponed a further 24 hours.
St Flannan’s and CBC will head back the scene in the hopes of finally crossing swords in the province’s most famed colleges hurling competition. St Flannan’s coach Brendan Bugler admits the correct decision was taken on the day to not reduce such a prestigious event to a weather lottery.
“It was the right decision on the day to postpone the fixture. We went down thinking it would be played but when we arrived at 10.30am and walked out on to the field, the conditions were absolutely crazy. It was not in our control as to whether the game went ahead or not, it was down to the Munster Council and when the weather changed from a yellow to an orange warning, they had to pull it. It was the right thing to do, even though it was bitterly disappointing for everyone who had already travelled down there” he noted.
The game itself may not have not have gone ahead, but the management and squad did take something from the day.
He said: “From our point of view, it was something we could view as a trial run of the day in terms of what time to meet up and how long the journey would take and all that so we can take something from it. The players were not affected by it at all, and they just took it for what it was. They were ready for road and we had already started the warm-up with the activation exercises indoors and all that. They were ready for the game and were a little bit disappointed when it was called off but they realise now looking back on it that it was the right decision on the day”.
With the big day now looming into sharp focus once more, Bugler feels the mental challenge of being ready and recognising the opportunity that awaits is something his side are ready for.
“The lads understood the challenge was there to come down from that high and be ready and focused again but we are confident they are in a good place. We told them in the dressing room that they were getting the opportunity of two more weeks to prepare for a Harty Cup final which is a great place to be. It is big day for the school and the county, but especially for these lads and their clubs and families so I am sure they will have big support down there again” said the Whitegate man.
Since that day in Mallow, St Flannan’s have had challenge games against both the Clare minor hurlers and Clarecastle U-21’s to keep them match sharp. Bugler says the extra time afforded to them was something they used in positive manner.
“It gave us two extra weeks to improve on a few little things and the lads were back to work straight away. We had the mid-term break but we met up a few times to train and they are working hard. They have put in a massive effort so everyone is just really excited now and looking ahead to Sunday. They understood the situation and knew that we just had to go again. We had prepared really well before the original fixture and we have done the same this time around too” he concluded.