This year, the club won the county Premier 1 U15FC title, helping them to scoop the November Rebel Óg award. Making it all the more impressive was that it was at the first attempt, having come up from Premier 2 last year.
“There has always been a very good tradition of football in Midleton,” says manager Paudie O’Brien, “but in modern times it has been difficult to do both.
“We’d be known as a hurling club but we’d always have done a lot of football and we’re beginning to do a lot more at underage. I came back involved with these lads at U13 level and we concentrated on the hurling because there were a few discipline problems. We concentrated on getting the discipline and hurling right and then last year we concentrated on the football. We won the Premier 2 U14 football and came up to Premier 1 this year.
“We won the league and championship at U14 football and we’re doing well in hurling too, we have a league final tonight, against Inniscarra. We won the Féile last year and this year we lost in the first round to Sars, who went on to win the championship.”
“We’ve a panel of 25,” he says, “with 24 dual players and one football-only player. It’s the same management team too — we have Críostóir Ó Cáthasaigh, a Kerryman from the Gaeltacht, he does the football coaching but he’s also involved in the hurling. As manager, everything comes through me so we can arrange both.”
O’Brien admits that there were concerns playing Premier 1 football and hurling might have been too much.
“There was a huge fear at the start of the year. We sat down and said we’d have to make an effort because the young lads deserved a chance to perform at this level. When they’re playing football, they’re more relaxed. It was all about momentum, we had a good win over Na Piarsaigh in the quarter-final and then we played Nemo. I never thought I’d be going into a Nemo dressing room saying, ‘Hard luck’.
“That gave us huge confidence, but probably the one that turned it for us was a league game last July. We played Glanmire and we won and we saw that night that there was potential in them. Going forward, it’s about trying to maintain those levels.”