A Championship Final slot For Johnny McGuirk and St. Brigids at the expense his old club Craobh Chiarain
The sporting world is a funny one sometimes. In other ways it can draw other emotions for different reasons. Last weekend St. Brigids beat Craobh Chiarain to advance to their first Dublin Senior Hurling Final since 2003. Interestingly it was Chiarain who beat Brigids in the 2003 Final.
What’s more interesting is current St. Brigids boss Johnny McGuirk was a Craobh Chairan player back in 2003 when they beat Brigids. And while leading his side to victory this Sunday for the opportunity to face Cuala in the Championship was a triumph, facing his old club was an emotional experience.
“I was up with the Craobh lads afterwards, kind of apologising to them.” he told the Examiner earlier this week.
“Mentally, I had to really prepare myself to go against them.”
“We played them last year in the championship and I found it awful hard.”
“It is heartbreaking, because I’ve had years in a Chiarain jersey and I have huge pride and admiration for what they do and how they play the game.”
McGuirk is very familiar with current Craobh Chiarain boss Ger Ryan. Last year the duo teamed up to manage the DIT freshers team. And they are very close which made the weekend all the more difficult.
“Ger is a top bloke.” he admitted
“Apart from the last two weeks, I’d be onto him every week, discussing hurling, opposition teams, one thing or another.”
“We’re friends. It was very difficult.”
Brigids face mammoth opponents in Cuala
It’s business as usual for Cuala after being dumped out of the Championship in last year’s Semi Finals by Kilmacud Crokes. But this is the Dalkey Men’s fourth Dublin final in five years.
The two in a row All Ireland Championship winners have coasted to this year’s final. The odds are 6/4 in their favour to reclaim the Leinster Trophy, let alone the Dublin Championship. But all that has buoyed Johnny McGuirk who is more than happy to be the underdog.
‘The last three games we’ve been underdogs”
“We weren’t expected to beat Jude’s, we weren’t expected to beat Na Fianna, we weren’t expected to beat Craobh.”
“We just say to them, ‘Hurl with freedom: it’s a game to be enjoyed, so enjoy it’.”