Buckley: Vincent’s focus on final step

Attempting to scratch their senior itch has become an annual challenge for St Vincent’s.

The city side claimed the title six years ago to progress to the top grade, but found their sojourn a short one. Defeats against Bishopstown and Bantry condemned them to a four-way relegation play-off, however, and three defeats in the round-robin format saw them relegated, along with St Finbarr’s.

The flipside of that year, though, is that they won their Kelleher Shield section, so it was not merely a case of them lacking the quality for senior.

Vincent’s attacker Anthony Buckley points to the fortunes of the Barr’s, who beat them in the 2008 PIFC final, as proof of the narrow gap between the first and second tiers.

“We just had hard luck before when we won it because we had a lot of injuries in the first 15 the following season,” he said.

“I would say that we are more determined now to get back up there again and I’d say that there’s not much of a margin between intermediate and senior.

“St Finbarr’s won it in 2008 and then they got to the senior final the first two years back up so we hope we can kick on from Sunday and get back up and stay there.”

Since being relegated, Vincent’s have reached at least the semi-finals each year, but only twice managed to make the decider. A gradual replenishment of the side has been a factor.

“That would be true to say,” he said. “We have a good few of the 2006 team still there and some new guys who have come in and taken their place. We have had a tough enough route to the final, four games but I would say that once we get over the first round, momentum starts to kick in. Against Macroom in the first game we went in as underdogs and we won it in the end and we have been tipping away since that win.”

Vincent’s performance against Carrigaline, whom they beat 1-18 to 0-5 in the semi-final on September 15, was the high point of the year, though Buckley hopes it can be bettered.

“We just drove on that day, never gave them any room and got ahead of them and kept it going. I don’t think we peaked that day, we got over it and just looked ahead to the final.

“That was over a month ago so we have had a bit of a wait. We took a week off and just tipped away then towards building it up for next Sunday.

“That happened too after the first round, a long wait but you just keep things ticking over.”

A big factor in maintaining focus is the presence of coach Keith Ricken, for whom Buckley has high regard.

“Keith is the coach and Stephen Rea is the manager with Wayne Murphy and Paddy O’Shea selectors [all three are players] and that has worked well.

“Everybody does their bit and we have a great coach in Keith. He’s a Vincent’s man all his life, one of the best coaches around. I won a county with him in minor and intermediate in 2006, leagues and whatever.

“He knows us inside out since we were young fellows, he can be tough but that is what gets you up there.”

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