McDonnell relishing ‘buzz’ as spirit of 2013 returns

Michael McDonnell, Chairperson of St Brigid’s. Pic: Kieran Croghan

Being a part of the biggest game of the year is an honour that any club would dearly love to have, but being in a national final also inevitably means plenty of hard work behind the scenes. Chairperson Michael McDonnell has been involved with the St Brigid’s club for many years.

“It’s a very busy time for everyone but it’s work that you don’t mind doing when you are in an All-Ireland final. It’s a great achievement to be there and we are very proud to be at that stage.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s 11 years since we were in a final before but it’s a great feeling… there is a great buzz around the community and the parish and it’s where every club wants to be”.

There are lots of logistics to think about off the field in preparation for the final.

“Things like sponsorship, hotel arrangements, looking after the players, etc has to be done and it’s all condensed into 13 or 14 days now with the new format of the championships. In times gone by you had a gap until mid-February and then to mid-March and you had time to run fundraisers, etc, but that’s gone now.

“We had a very successful players’ sponsorship scheme in the run-up to the semi-final. We got great local support for that from here locally and from much further afield too and we have an idonate page running as well.

“There is so much goodwill out there. That semi-final win has lifted the whole community and everyone wants to be associated with the team, which is great”.

The fact that this is such a young St Brigid’s team that has reached an All-Ireland final reflects very well on the coaching structure in the club, as acknowledged by Michael.

“Jerome Stack has mentioned to me many times that so much credit is due to the coaching that the club have done with players on the way up. Their skill levels are very high and we have worked on that all the way up along. They are a young team but they have a lack of fear, which is great to see. They have been winners all the way up along and remember that a lot of these players will have played in four Connacht minor finals. So they are used to competing at the top level”.

Michael agrees that St Brigid’s will be outsiders against Glen but says that there will be a huge support for the team on the day in Croke Park.

“We know we will be underdogs. Glen have earned the right to be the favourites. They were narrowly beaten by Kilmacud last year and they have come back to beat them (in the recent semi-final). In fact they are in a similar position to us in 2013.

“We eventually got over Crossmaglen and went on to win it after that. We know if we bring what we are capable of to the table we will not be far away. We will enjoy the occasion. We will savour it and hope we are good enough on the day to win it”.