Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál rewarded for never-say-die attitude

With All-Ireland post-primary hurling titles thin on the ground for Cork schools in recent times, the judges had an easy task in awarding the March Rebel Óg award to Blarney’s Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál.

Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál rewarded for never-say-die attitude

Last Wednesday, they overcame Roscommon CBS by 0-17 to 2-9 to claim the Michael Cusack Cup, the senior C hurling championship. Selector and teacher St John Cremen cites the team’s persistence as being key in finally breaking down the door.

“We got to a Munster final last year,” he said.

“We were well beaten on the day, but I think the team learned a lot from that. They won an U16B Cork Colleges final too, and the fact that they have reached the latter stages of Munster championships in recent years has really stood to them. The hunger was there.”

That U16B win in Cork saw them promoted to the O’Callaghan Cup, the senior A competition, for this year, which greatly aided preparations.

“We went in with the expectation that we’d find it tough, but we had a great run,” said Cremen.

“We beat St Colman’s from Midleton, Youghal, and the North Mon AG in a fabulous semi-final, that was a big surprise.

“I think really, the team had belief in themselves after that, no matter what happened in a match, they would come through in the end.

“In the final, we got a lesson from Rochestown but it was a good lesson because it made the lads more determined to go ahead in Munster and finish the job that they didn’t do last year.”

It all added up to a burgeoning team spirit, with Cremen believing that each win added confidence.

“We had some great matches in Munster,” he said. “Carrick-on-Suir up in Limerick in the semi-final was a cracker of a match, they might feel aggrieved that they’re not where we are today, because it was a great game.

“Coachford Community College was another test in the final. Having had these games in Munster, beating good teams, we said: ‘Let’s go all the way now, we’re good enough’.

“It’s not a massive population. Blarney, Whitechurch, and Grenagh would be our main feeder clubs, though we have a player from St Finbarr’s on the panel.

“You’d have a few from St Vincent’s every now and again, but those three are the main suppliers.

“They’d play against each other at club level and then together with Muskerry. They get to know each other from club matches and it really knits them together in the school. They’ve created great friendships.”

And, with that All-Ireland won in the name of the school, a legacy is left for future intakes to emulate.

“If they see that older players from their clubs can come along and win an All-Ireland, why can’t they?” Cremen said.

“It bodes well for the future. There’s a lot of work to be done, but that’s what we’re there for, to get them going and put in the work in the school.”

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