Seamus Harnedy: ‘We wanted to show everyone 2017 wasn’t a once-off’

Late in yesterday’s county final, Seamus Harnedy went down in a heap, with first-aid attendants looking concerned, as they moved his head and neck gingerly.

Seamus Harnedy: ‘We wanted to show everyone 2017 wasn’t a once-off’

By Michael Moynihan

Late in yesterday’s county final, Seamus Harnedy went down in a heap, with first-aid attendants looking concerned, as they moved his head and neck gingerly.

Happily, the Imokilly captain recovered to collect the Seán Óg Murphy Cup.

“I just got a belt on the neck and I’d had a bit of an issue with my back for the last few weeks. It was just a bit of a yank. I had some pain down the back, so I was just being cautious. The boys were probably ticking the box to make sure all was ok.”

It was the second year in a row Harnedy collected the trophy. Some compensation for losing the All-Ireland semi-final to Limerick?

“That was obviously very hard to take, and still is, but it definitely mends the wound a small bit.

“That was a different competition; it’s been boxed off. And, as a player, it’s always about turning the attention onto the next day.

“Today, it was all about the performance, the 60-plus minutes that were going to happen today.

“If you focus on your past performances, rather than the present, you’re not going to turn up with your best form. I wanted to put all that to the back of my head. Unfortunately, you can’t change the past, you can only change the now, and that was the focus for this final.”

It puts the current team on a par with the 1997-8 Imokilly side, of course.

“This goes back to the point of (selectors) Derek Barrett and Jimmy Smiddy having the bragging rights in our set-up, that they did back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998,” said Harnedy.

“We wanted to emulate that, but we got here day by day. Last year is gone and we wanted to show everyone it wasn’t a once-off.

“We had our scares during the year. We knew we had to up it, after the Newecestown game, because we got out of jail that day.

“We got a real fright in the quarter-final (against Newcestown); we were lucky to get over that day.

“We knew we had to up it incrementally since then and we have, thank God. Fellas that were tired after a long season got a breather, got themselves back together, got themselves in the right condition and attitude to play these big games”.

He continued: “The scoreline flattered us today, in that Midleton were there with 20 minutes to go, but the lads showed great character. When we needed the scores, Bill Cooper, Will Leahy, Paudie (O’Sullivan), obviously, the boys we needed to stand up and show leadership, did so. And that was enough to get us over the line.”

What helped, also, was Harnedy’s first-half goal: “You have to learn from your past mistakes, I suppose, finishing: it’s a game of small margins.

“I’ve missed opportunities in the past, where it’s cost teams. I just wanted to make sure that I was clinical and, thankfully, I executed the chance.

“But I’m only one of a 40-man panel. Every man is very important to this squad. They’ve really drove it on since 2015 and every one of the lads are unbelievable. In training or challenge games, everyone’s trying to get into the starting 15. It’s a very competitive environment, but it was important to get that goal, just give us a small bit of a cushion. But with 20 minutes to go, it was back in the melting pot, with the game down to two points.

“Luke (O’Farrell) had a great score underneath the stand and it was anyone’s game then. But we’re just very thankful to get over the line.” Throughout the game, the east Cork division always seemed able to get scores when Midleton came at them.

“We’ve lads with a lot of character in our team. William Leahy stood up with great scores; Mark O’Keeffe got a very important one; and Bill Cooper, as well — he is just a powerhouse in the middle of the field, a leader all his life. He’s incredible to this team and he really stood up at pivotal points in this game. He was very vocal throughout and he really was important to today’s victory.”

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