Leinster Club JFC Analysis: Castletown venturing where no Castletown team has gone before...
If Castletown were looking for a theme tune to go with their adventures in the Leinster Club JFC they could do worse than pick Bruce Springsteen's 'Glory Days' because no matter what happens from here on in these are glory days for the club.
Sure, they have won nothing yet on the provincial front but the fact that they are in a final is an indication of how it's all going swimmingly well for them. How they are venturing where no Castletown team has gone before; explorers conquering territory they previously would only have seen from a distance.
This theme was touched on by manager Aidan Young after he had watched his team overcome a stubborn Clonmore side who asked serious question of Castletown; questions about their confidence, character and hunger.
"We are making history. We never dreamed, to be perfectly honest, of finding ourselves here in this position where we are heading into a Leinster final," he said.
There can be little doubt that Castletown and surrounding areas will empty for the game against St Abban's, Adamstown.
Certainly Castletown have already covered plenty of miles in their Leinster adventures, having defeated both Laragh and Clonmore away. The Laragh game was an easy win. Saturday's tie was much more testing but Young agreed that's what his team needed.
He also revealed something else. How the Castletown set-up is underpinned by a democracy where the players have a major say. It was the 'voice of the players' that helped to solve a major, thorny problem Castletown came up against at Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday.
"Clonmore had a system that really, really, troubled us, especially in the first half. Out of nine kick outs they won eight of them, that troubled us, they were able to set up a platform from that," Young explained.
"We regrouped at half-time and decided we had to put more pressure on that kick-out and we did, we kicked on from there," he added before elaborating further on how he and his selectors Christy Meehan and Wayne Smith, along with players, grappled with an issue that could have scuppered their ambitions. It was an insight into how and why Castletown have enjoyed a wonderful year so far.
"We went zonal in the first-half, our players were covering an area rather than man-to-man, and it just wasn't working for us, we knew that at half-time. I came into the dressing room and the players had sorted it out, it wasn't that I came in and said 'this is what we are doing.' That's what you have with this bunch of lads. They saw the problem and wanted to sort it. There wasn't a lot for us to say, just a reiteration of what they had already said.
"We sat and we talked, we listened and what they said is generally what we discussed outside so the players provide the leadership too, they are a great bunch of lads. That's how it is with us, the lads solve the problems on the pitch, it's good."
Young is a Castletown man through and through. He played for many years in the green and gold. He played in two IFC county finals losing both. The big time always seemed to be the kind of territory occupied and conquered by others. Now they are getting a few Hollywood moments of their own to savour.
One of the rules of Leinster Club competitions, it seems, is that games have to be played at venues where there is a stand. Castletown are one of the very few clubs who have a stand of their own. A small stand perhaps but a stand. That fact alone indicates the kind of ambition, foresight shown by the small rural club over the years. Relegation from the intermediate was a shock but they have responded in fine style winning the JFC in Meath - and now this.
An intriguing aspect of Saturday's game was that the Clonmore management included Paul Garrigan, the coach who has worked with Meath ladies and is now part of Colm O'Rourke's senior set-up. One local reporter pointed out how Garrigan was transported to one of Clonmore's games by helicopter.
Castletown won on Saturday but they did so without reaching any heady heights. They can be better and Young knows that. "We have our injuries, knocks. We'll have light training sessions this week, a few stretches, it's about recovery now, you're not going to gain anything in terms of fitness from here on in," he added. Castletown's glory days continue to roll on.