Hard work is, and always has been, the Castlehaven mantra. Brian Hurley is the west Cork club’s marquee forward and will be expected to lead by example as they seek a third Cork SFC title against Nemo Rangers in Páirc Uí Rinn tomorrow (5pm).
But his county status doesn’t mean special treatment amongst his own.
“I came down the Tuesday night after the Kildare game [when Cork were eliminated from the All-Ireland SFC] this year and you don’t look for sympathy around here, I can tell you,” he says.
“I can remember getting half-an-elbow from David Limrick on the side of the head! It doesn’t be long bringing you down to earth and that’s always the way. Castlehaven have often had big players playing with Cork but, when they came down here, they were a normal person in a normal village.
“I think we’ve a population of 1,100, there’s not too much money in the club, and you’ve fellas over here on Saturdays working on building the place. It’s great, we’re happy with what we have and we wouldn’t change it.”
Wins over Duhallow in the 2012 final and Nemo a year later have served to re-establish the Haven as a force in the county - those victories coming off the back of a defeat to UCC in the 2011 decider. A fourth final in five years means they are full of experience and Hurley believes that, while last year’s quarter-final loss to Carbery Rangers was disappointing, it allowed them a chance to recharge.
“It’s great for the club but everybody’s head is above water, nobody is getting carried away,” he says.
“We’re half-married to the big occasion at this stage, there was nobody jumping around or no circuses after the Skibbereen game, which just showed that we had a job to do and we got over the line.
“We expect to be here (in a county final), with the way the club are playing. We aim to be here. Last year was disappointing, I thought the train ran out of the steam and we were a bit fatigued.
“There was a lot going on, it was three or four years on the trot and the horse fell. Things have freshened up again this year and there are big hits going in in training, which is a good thing.”
It hasn’t always been such plain sailing for the Castletownshend/Union Hall operation, though. The 2003 county win wasn’t sufficiently built upon, but Hurley is well aware of lessons from the past.
“The older boys would be quick to remind the younger guys about the grafting they did around the place and what hard work it was to get back to the top,” he says.
“We’re in the good days now but there were a few dark days between 2003 and 2011. That’s eight long years and the boys were out there grafting over the winters and then having short summers. We’re making the most of this now, every minute of it, and hopefully the good days will continue.
“I remember 2003, they got over Clonakilty in the final and they thought they might be back there a year or two later. But it took eight years and we lost that (momentum), which was a real kick.
“Last year was a punch to us, we have firm memories of that, so it’s always in the back of the mind. We want to be in county finals and Munster finals and play on the big days. We’re doing well as a unit in pursuing that.” And he’s quick to hail the other components of that unit too.
“The likes of Tomás O’Leary Chris Hayes and John O’Regan,” he says, “they don’t get much credit but they’re the wheels on the bus, as the man says. They’re the ones getting us over the line and you’ve ‘the Bricker’ [Liam Collins] then hanging around the place too, blowing fellas out of it in training. He’s always giving a bit of advice and there are younger fellas knocking on the door then too.
“My brother Michael is after stepping up a bit, in fairness, he got the break he needed, he was unlucky with injuries there for about a year and a half. There are other young lads too, Stephen Collins and Shane Nolan don’t get the credit they deserve and they contribute a lot.”
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