'It took 20 years to rectify what went wrong at the Barrs'

‘It took 20 years to rectify what went wrong at the Barrs’

It’s Friday evening at Neenan Park.

Past, present, and future Blues are milling about a busy Barrs clubhouse. A blue and yellow balloon bedecked Barrs clubhouse.

Young kids, accompanied by mammy and daddy, are in looking for club merchandise ahead of the big day. Can’t be going down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh if not covered helmet to toe in blue.

One volunteer, weighed down by brown boxes, spills a drawer of blue socks onto the floor.

Sat in the corner is John Cremin. Barrs royalty. Present-day selector, 1970s and 80s dual winner.

Don’t mind your double talk. Cremin is versed in the double-double. Four Barrs players started the county hurling and football final wins of 1980 and ’82. Cremin was one of them.

Shall we start by looking back or looking ahead? How about neither.

Let’s look instead at the energy and vibrancy of the setting we’re in.

In an earlier chat with Ger Cunningham, the St Finbarr’s manager remarked how he’s noticed old faces and old teammates returning to Neenan Park in recent weeks to watch their training sessions. Old comrades drawn back into the club off the back of the hurlers’ run to a first final in 29 years.

Cremin hasn’t been blind to it either.

“What the run has done has rekindled a sense of excitement and a sense of pride in the Barrs senior hurlers,” he says.

 St Finbarr’s hurling selector John Cremin. Picture; Eddie O’Hare

“People have been impressed with the quality of the play, with the way you won matches, the way you battled, and the way you hurled. That excited people. That has brought people back into the club following the Barrs senior hurlers who mightn’t have been following them for a while. They might have just slipped away.

“It’s great to see that. It has given the club energy to be back in county finals.” 

Equally if not more important is the younger generation within their catchment area and drawing them into the club.

The footballers quite literally got the ball rolling with the county final wins of 2018 and ’21. The latter was followed by the club’s first provincial title in 35 years.

The sea of blue that took over Thurles on Munster final afternoon last January and again in Portlaoise for their All-Ireland semi-final against Kilcoo was promotion you can’t put a price on.

“Getting those victories and having those great days out energised the club. It is a different era now to the era of old. Success and days out like that opens up the club to an awful lot more people. With social media, the pictures and videos shared give a sense of excitement that rallies everybody around.

“The success of the footballers has inspired all sections of the club to greater things. What they have done has been a huge factor in our success at senior hurling level this year.” 

Between 1979 and 86, the hurling and football teams Cremin was a part of contested 12 county finals. There were six hurling final appearances on the trot from 1979-84, including a three-in-a-row of titles from 80-82.

“It was a phenomenal time that is probably never again going to be repeated.” 

Neither can famines of 29 years and counting be repeated.

“Lots of clubs go through barren years and difficult times. It’s hard and it is difficult going through them. You can’t sulk or be sorry for yourself. You have to accept it for what it is and keep going.

“Success doesn’t come overnight. Over 20 years of hard work has gone into the underage and street league level to produce the blue wave that you wrote about recently.

“You have the likes of Glenn O’Connor, Eoin Keane, Jamie Burns, Eoghan Finn, and Damien Cahalane who were the initial lads on the conveyor belt. The younger lads are at the other end of the blue wave and are the most recent outcome of it. It has taken 20 years to rectify what went wrong.

“You’d love to see that come to fruition on Sunday.” 

#years #rectify #wrong #Barrs

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