It is 14 years since Boherbue Comprehensive School last participated in a national decider and they are determined to savour tomorrow’s appearance in the All-Ireland Vocational JAFC final.
Drawing their players from Duhallow clubs with a rich football tradition has helped increase the hype and expectation this week ahead of the showdown against Cnoc Mhuire (Granard) in McDonagh Park in Nenagh.
“It’s an absolutely massive occasion,” says school games co-ordinator Joe Carroll. “We’d be expecting two to three busloads form the school alone tomorrow. There’s been a few St Patrick’s Day parades postponed and there’ll be a lot of parents travelling to support the lads and a lot of club members as well. Boherbue, Kiskeam, Newmarket, Dromtarriffe and Rockchapel are all represented on the panel. They are all big football clubs and there is big support from those clubs.
“Appearances like this happen rarely for our school. The last time was in 1998, the only time we ever won the All-Ireland junior title. Barry O’Leary, who captained Newmarket to win the Cork Premier IFC title last year, was on that team, as was Tony O’Keeffe, another Newmarket player. It’s nice to be back and we want to seize the opportunity.
“The team management Robert Stack [Newmarket], Brendan O’Connor [Knocknagree] and James Twohig [Lyre] are all local lads from Duhallow. They realise the significance of this and have put in a major effort.”
The rise to prominence of this current bunch of players has been signposted along the way. Goalkeeper Anthony Casey from Kiskeam is currently involved with the Cork minor football squad and the displays of some of his team-mates this season augurs well for their chances of gaining future inter-county recognition as well. Carroll outlines how, since these players entered the school, there was hope that they could leave their mark.
“This particular squad were very good at U14 level. We would have won county titles in Cork, while they also won the first-year competition in Munster. We knew at the start of this season that we’d a good chance in this competition, which is the U16½ grade. Clonakilty, who we faced in the Munster final, were always going to be the big threat this year as the Cork sides are very strong in the province.
“It was a very tight match against Clonakilty and in the All-Ireland semi-final against Virginia College from Cavan last week. We were very wary last week as the teams from the North are generally very strong and usually end up winning All-Ireland titles. The two goals we got against Virginia were important as was getting the only goal of the game against Clonakilty. But these fellas have been in a lot of tight games and they seem to have the ability to show great heart and pull it out of the fire.
“We’re going to be underdogs tomorrow. The Longford school won it last year and have seven or eight of that team available. Winning an All-Ireland last year will provide them with experience and they are supposed to be very strong. But we’re all still really looking forward to the occasion.”
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