Imokilly claimed their fifth county final this afternoon and their coach Derek Barrett has played a major role in all five, as a player in 1997 and 1998 and now as coach
As a man who is well aware of his roots, he was beaming in the October sun in the aftermath.
“We are incredibly proud. All we do every time we get together is try and put in a performance and there’s a great rapport between the younger players and the older players. And I think that transfers out on the pitch when they’re playing together. They back each other up all of the time.”
That rapport was tested to the full in Páirc Uí Rinn as Barrett acknowledged that the Glen’s challenge was the toughest one they’d faced on final day.
“Yeah, without a shadow of a doubt. The Glen always bring something different. They’re always tough to beat and I suppose we had an incentive with the motion at the start of the year, trying to get rid of Imokilly.
“What it boils to for me, even going back to when I was playing with Cobh, my hurling playground was here playing with Imokilly. Unfortunately we were only intermediate at the time and we’ve ended up junior now.
“Is it fair on the likes of Séamus Harnedy, Barra O’Tuama, Kieran Histon and all these guys not to be able to play senior?
“That’s wrong. I think people should embrace it rather than go against it. It was the same last year with the idea there’s loads of this team on the Cork panel.
“There wasn’t too many of them on the Cork team last year. They should probably have been more.”
Meanwhile, Castlemartyr’s Brian Lawton is one of the elder statesman of this Imokilly team and even with his experience he knew that chasing a
“We’re absolutely ecstatic. We were trying to keep it down over the past couple of weeks when everyone was talking about it but we had to focus on the task at hand which was just another game for us. But look, at the end of the day, it wasn’t that but you are trying to play it down the whole time. I don’t think it’ll sink in for another while really.”
There are plenty of divisions in Cork, but none of them can organise themselves as successfully as Imokilly. What is it that makes them different?
“Well the management have been brilliant. We’ve a game every Monday night and we’ve upwards of twenty games played this year so we’re always together. But we’d two bad losses before we’d these wins. We lost to Sars below in Cobh and we lost to Erins Own here (Páirc Uí Rinn) to a last minute goal.
“I think they’ve built our character. Sometimes you have to lose one or two to actually win one.”
So defeat it was defeat that brought this team closer together?
“Definitely. We thought we were probably a small bit short the time we played Sars down in Cobh, we were just coming. The year after we thought we’d be there or thereabouts but it doesn’t always work out like that in sport.
You just have to stay at it and it definitely built character for us. We got fellas back from colleges at the right time too, and we’ve the right age group together, the right blend of youth and experience.
Now with three titles in the bag, dare he dream of four?
“Sure you stay at it as long as you can don’t you? We’ll definitely try and drive on again.”