Austin Stacks enjoyed the Sunday night of their county final win. Stephen Stack wasn’t going to begrudge his players a night on the town after ending a 20 year wait for a county title.
But that was it. By Monday, the festivities were over for the players and the management team. Another target filled the horizon.
“When you don’t win a county championship for 20 years obviously there will be great excitement, great celebrations,” said manager Stack.
“There was a whole generation of kids that never saw Austin Stacks win a county championship. It was a really important result. We went for a meal and then we went back up to the clubhouse. The atmosphere was fantastic. It had been so long since we won it and there was a huge number of Austin Stacks people at the game, at the clubhouse, a lot of people from abroad too who had come home. That Sunday night was a very special night for the club. But we made a conscious decision after Sunday we would park the celebrations.”
Stack had no difficulty he admits in ‘refocusing minds.’
“Some of these players have been trying to win a county championship for 10 to 15 years. They know that when you get an opportunity to win a county championship you could spend the winter celebrating it if you wanted. If you do, you miss the opportunity of preparing to compete in Munster. It wasn’t a difficult thing for us to agree on. The opportunity to play in the Munster championship comes around very rarely, in our case, once every 20 years. We justified it by putting the heads down. We can celebrate the county final at Christmas time when it is all over. All that concerns now is the challenge of Ballincollig. When you haven’t had success for a long time, suddenly you begin to get greedy, you want more. That is a good thing with these players, they don’t want to sit back on their laurels.”
Stacks were involved last weekend in the final round of county league games, the perfect distraction ahead of their meeting with the Cork champions.
“The game against Kerins O’Rahillys was a huge game for us. We had a to get a point out of it to get a home venue for the county league final. We are the only side unbeaten all year in the league. We wanted to continue that. We made a decision to go right into the panel and trust the players we had on the bench. We started 12 players that hadn’t started in the county final. I think that showed a lot of faith in our extended panel.
“That was repaid because they got us the result (3-9 to 1-15). It was an important game, an important result and important we looked at the wider panel.”
The club have long lived in the shadow of Munster champions Dr Crokes, but Stack is adamant there is no pressure on his charges to emulate the Killarney club’s recent haul.
“We are very conscious of the fact Crokes have been tremendous ambassadors in terms of Kerry and Munster club football. They won the last three Munster titles, the have set the standard as far as Kerry club teams in the province are concerned. We have to try win games on our own right. We can’t trade off their reputation, but we will certainly be trying to honour it. We will be trying to put our best foot forward on behalf of all the clubs in Kerry because we are conscious that we are not just representing Stacks, we are representing Kerry.”
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