Na Fianna’s journey in the Leinster Club JHC has given the team "a new lease of life" and now they are on the cusp of achieving something really special Barry Slevin told JIMMY GEOGHEGAN
"I think we are enjoying it a lot more at the moment, the run has given us a new lease of life," he told the Meath Chronicle.
Slevin has been recognised as one of the most talented hurlers in Meath for some years now and the 28-year-old had a significant role in helping Na Fianna earn a place in Saturday’s Nowlan Park showdown against Dunnamaggin.
Throughout their march to a Meath intermediate title Slevin has being one of the team’s mainstays with consistent performances at midfield combined with his ability to turn opportunities into chances from frees, ‘65s’ as well as from play.
He not only fired over seven points in the 3-12 to 2-13 win over Wexford side Taghmon Camross in the semi-final, he played a crucial role in creating the injury-time goal that ensured the contest ended in whirlwind of drama.
Behind by a point as the game slipped into the second-minute of injury-time Na Fianna won a free well inside their own half.
As he had been doing all afternoon Slevin stepped up to take it.
He was left to grapple with a dilemma that faces all free-takers, especially in the last minute of a tight contest. How to make the distance without losing accuracy?
"We were behind, but we had been playing the second-half with a good breeze. I thought that if I hit the ball well enough that it might have the distance. I just went through my usual routine. I probably didn’t hit it as hard as I could have, I didn’t want to lose any accuracy," he said.
"It was on target, it dropped short, and thankfully Shane (Walsh) got on the end of it and scored the goal that won the game for us."
That victory and the way Na Fianna kept battling to the end was an indication to Slevin of just how much belief there is now in the side.
With the Meath IHC title in the bag the pressure is off. This is bonus territory big time, hence the "new lease of life" he speaks about.
Slevin’s role in the scheme of things is clear. As well as taking the frees his job is to patrol that territory in front of the half-back line and pick up as much ball as he can.
Once the sliotar is in hand he aims to launch it into the space in front of the forwards. Often he will pick out a forward with a laser-sharp pass.
When he was still only a teenager Slevin was brought into the Meath senior set-up and was regularly seen in the green and gold although he has drifted away from the inter-county scene in more recent times.
Instead he has been content to focus on helping Na Fianna who spent their time in the senior ranks in their native county before slipping back down to intermediate. Now they are back at the top table with a Leinster title within their grasp.
During his day job Slevin fits granite and marble worktops.
If he was told at the start of last summer that he and his colleagues would be hunting for a Leinster title in the Marble City in the lead up to Christmas he would not have believed it. Yet here they are.
"We’ll go down to Kilkenny and make a day of it," he says about Saturday’s final, fully aware of the magnitude of the task while determined the savour the moment.