Maguire hails brave players
NO-ONE could have blamed Kieran Maguire if he decided to make a clean break from his beloved Young Irelands last year.
The former Louth U-21 boss was at the helm for one of the club’s most trying campaigns, but Adrian O’Donoghue took over at the end of 2017, Maguire agreed to stay on as a selector and the rest as they say is history.
‘I was the manager last year, but Adrian came in an changed things around and we got a few fellas back and a few young fellas in and after losing the first game we haven’t looked back,’ he says.
‘You couldn’t have wished for any better and I for one was delighted to see the Irelanders back in Intermediate. I took them down and when you’re the boss, the buck stops with you, but you have to take that on the chin. Derek [Maguire] came back from America, Mark Savage is back and we have a lot of the players playing a lot better. And once you start winning it’s a terror how all of a sudden you’re like a new team.
‘A lot of these boys have gone almost a year playing football so they’re in a place they’ve never been before, but one thing it has done is bond the team more then ever before.
‘They’ve travelled the road a few times, it was three hours down to New Ross and three hours back and to come away with a win strengthens that bond.’
Maguire hails the defensive system O’Donoghue has introduced, but points out that you need good defenders to make the system work.
‘We haven’t conceded a lot of scores, seven, eight, nine points max and even our forwards come in off the training pitch saying they’d hate to play our backs every week.
‘The lads in there know each other and they have each others back. They’re a unit now and they’re very hard to break down, so if you get anything out of them you earn it.
‘The Kilkenny game was a banana skin, but in fairness to the lads they set their stall out. It was the biggest pitch I’ve ever seen and it took us a while to get to grips with that, but the boys stuck to the task and even though they had a purple patch, the boys pushed on again and we were easy winners in the end even though it was a physical and demanding game.’
If that trip to New Ross was a journey into the unknown, Saturday’s final won’t be much different, but Kieran says Adrian’s approach makes it more about the Irelands team than their opponents.
‘We find out what we can about teams, but only in terms of who they have and who does the scoring. After that we just get on with our own game. Adrian has it in the boys heads that it’s all about us. You have to know bits and pieces about the other team, but it’s not the bee-all or end-all and we know if we’re on our game teams will find it very hard to beat us.’