Bringing it up a level
30 November 2007
When St Brides reached the senior championship final many at the Knockbridge club were hoping that, despite the pain of defeat, they would be be able to build on the performances over that summer in the years ahead.
Unfortunately for St Brides, they were unable to recapture that form in the following seasons, and were unable to seriously challenge for the Joe Ward Cup.
However, in 2007 a big effort by all at the club resulted in them competing with the best and resulted in the team being in contention for league and championship honours.
While the season ended without any silverware, the performances were sufficient to provide the encouragement that the Knockbridge club will be among the frontrunners next year.
Among those taking heart from the 2007 campaign is chairman, Colm Marry, who hopes such displays are a sign of things to come.
To help boost their chances in the senior competitions, St Brides turned to John Shorty Treanor to manage the team and he was assisted by selectors, Michael Ahern and David Hoey. This combination seemed to work as the players responded to help produce a very positive start to the season, according to the chairman.
"We started well enough in the league and then when the championship began in April we scored a great win over Newtown Blues in the first game, but lost to St Marys in the next outing."
Although Colm points out that the preparations of all clubs were disrupted by the prolonged break in the championship, his side did manage to maintain their momentum.
"There is no doubt that the championship was very disjointed as we started in April, then there was a long break before everyone had to lift their game again.
"However, thanks to some good displays we managed to reach the semi-final but lost out to Cooley in what was a very disappointing performance.
"Overall, I thought we had our best year since 2002 when we reached the final and going into the semi-final we felt we had a very good chance. We have a lot of respect for Cooley but just on the form we were showing we had reason to be optimistic.
"Although we were disappointed to have lost out, the hardest part about that defeat was that we felt we let ourselves down and didnt perform as we could," explained Colm.
Despite missing out on a place in the championship, St Brides still had plenty to play for in the closing stages of the season as they battled for league honours.
That challenge ultimately ended in further disappointment and controversy over a fixtures clash that left cloud hanging over what otherwise had been an encouraging season.
Colm explained that due to the senior hurling championship final involving Knockbridge hurling club, his side were unable to field in the crucial final game against Naomh Malachi. The Courtbane men were awarded the points and although St Brides won an appeal, that was overturned by Croke Park.
"That game was effectively a semi-final with the winners guaranteed a place against Cooley in the final and the whole business was very unfortunate.
"As chairman of the club, I would be critical of any committee who has the hurling final involving Knockbridge on a Sunday and expects many of the same players to play an important football match the previous day.
"It is not only unfair on the football club and the eight players involved, but also the hurling club who are trying to promote the game. In effect they made little of the hurling final and I thought it was both unfair and unnecessary.
"The whole thing could have been avoided, but it wasnt. We appealed the decision to Leinster Council and won, but the County Board appealed the decision to Croke Park and won their case which was something that disappointed us."
However, Colm and the club are determined to put the matter behind them and look forward to the future, which he believes is bright for St Brides.
"As far as we are concerned, it is over and done with now. We have to learn lessons from it and look to the future.
"Looking to next year we hope to come back stronger on the field and hopefully we have learned a few things from this year. We have a strong underage set-up and hopefully if we get one or two players coming through that will give us an edge and we can challenge for the top honours once again."
A lot of work has gone into the underage football in Knockbridge over recent years and the chairman points out that this effort has paid dividends in 2007.
"At minor level we were grouped with St Mochtas and Annaghminnon Rovers and managed to win the All-County Leauge which was a great achievement. We joined with the same two teams in the U-16 competitions and won the U-16 A Championship and the Division 2 League.
"We were able to field on our own at U-15 level and captured the Division 1 League by beating Geraldines in the final after a replay. The U-14s won the Division 1 League but lost the A Championship final to Ardee, while the club also competed at U-13 level and in the Og Sport competitions."
Colm was also encouraged by the performance of the team in the Division 4B League and he believes this competition is vital to the development of the club.
"I felt it was well organised this year for the most part although it probably didnt finish on time. It is very important that there is a proper structure on these leagues as it is vital for bringing players on to the senior team. If we dont have a proper structure the players wont develop."
Off the field of play it was a significant year for St Brides as they completed the work on the clubrooms which has been taking place over the past number of years.
"It was great to be able to put the finishing touches on the new facilities as we put down tarmac and erected training lights. It was a massive project for the club as we spent in the region of ?500,000 on it."
Despite this amount of money, Colm reveals that the club is in a healthy financial position and paid tribute all those who had helped turn the plans into reality.
"Fortunately we dont have a big debt to repay due to the support we got from the community. We had a lottery syndicate for the past while which raised in the region of ?100,000 and we are grateful to the National Lottery and Leinster Council for giving us grants. There is a great spirit in the area and a lot of people gave the project great support which the club is delighted with.
"The next step is to have an official opening of the clubrooms and we plan to have that in the summer of 2008," concluded Colm.