Two generations of Glen hurlers gathered around the one table at the Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig last Saturday.
Donal Cronin, during the week previous, had heard several mentions of how their win over Patrickswell at the Gaelic Grounds had progressed the club to a first Munster club final in 40 years. Nice symmetry and all that, but Cronin paid little heed. He had more important matters to be concentrating the mind, namely the Ballyea midfield partnership of 2013 hurler of the year Tony Kelly and captain Stan Lineen.
Recently retired Glen hurler David Goggin held his wedding reception at the Oriel House and as you’d expect, a fair few club members were invited along. Present was Denis Coughlan, centre-back on the 1976 Munster club winning team. Also in attendance was Pat Horgan, midfield 40 years ago. Donal Cronin got chatting to the pair and listening to tales from their 1976 campaign quickly hammered home the importance of getting back to the provincial decider, and winning it.
“Talking with the lads, two absolute club stalwarts, set the tone for this week,” said Cronin.
“Dave Moriarty, our strength and conditioning guy, had sent us a picture of the match programme from the ‘76 Munster club final before the Patrickswell game. You put it to the back of your mind, but we’re now being mentioned in the same vein as these fellas. I never dreamt I’d be mentioned in the same sentence as Pat [Horgan] or Denis [Coughlan], or the other host of stars that were part of that side.
“We were all looking after ourselves at the wedding and Denis and Pat were absolutely immaculate at that when they were playing. Pat was coming over to make sure it was water that was in the pint glasses. There was no getting away with anything.
“Pat was telling us he played in nine county finals. He lost seven, won two and went on to win one Munster club. It is incredible to think that we have the same amount of county medals as him, even though he played in nine. You’d be thinking, what kept this guy going through all those defeats? But that is who he was and that’s how dedicated he was. You look around the club and it is full of those types of characters.”
Cronin grew up idolising these men but accepts it is high-time for new role models to step forward.
“As a child, I would have known Pat Horgan. But the kids that are growing up now don’t have much of an association or can’t associate with those guys. We’re giving the kids something to associate to in the years to come. That’s very important.”
The 32-year old is in his 16th campaign at senior level and never genuinely believed he’d be looking forward to a Munster final or be part of a team inspiring the younger generation of Glen hurlers.
He made his senior debut back in 2001 when introduced at half-time in their first-round clash against Newtownshandrum at Fermoy.
“I was 17, we were absolutely annihilated and, if I’m being honest, it was fierce embarrassing. It was a serious learning curve for the first couple of years. We made no inroads into the senior championship and you’d be kind of questioning are you ever going to get there. Sixteen years later, I have a few medals to show for it and the show is still going on.
“There would have been a focus throughout this year to improve upon what we did last year. We’re not overly surprised that we’ve reached a Munster final, but I think a lot of people inside Cork and outside Cork might be surprised.
“We have reached three county finals in-a-row and done back-to-back county titles, but there are people still out there... there probably are, maybe, better hurling teams in Cork, but the character we have is very hard to match. Outside Cork, there is the view that Cork hurling is struggling at the moment and that the Cork county championship is a handy enough one to win. The stats have backed that up in recent years. We wronged that right the weekend before last and hopefully, we can go one step further next week.”
And what about Tony Kelly, would he fancy himself to stand toe-to-toe with the 22-year old for the hour?
“I certainly won’t be given that job. I’ve enough miles in the legs to be running after Tony Kelly for the hour. I’ll be pointing him out, though, and telling fellas who should be picking him up!”
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