Marc leads a very healthy Bray camp

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE Sports Edi­tor

LIFT­ING the O’Donoghue Cup for Bray cap­tain Marc Len­non would be as much about pay­ing a trib­ute to the past as it would be about of­fer­ing a help­ing hand to the fu­ture.

Since he was a child, Marc Len­non has hurled for Bray. Part of that golden gen­er­a­tion that ar­rived when all sorts of shoul­ders were put to the hurl­ing wheel by a com­mit­ted and driven group of peo­ple, Marc is fever­ishly pas­sion­ate about his club and his game and he is also aware of the threats to both if fo­cus is lost in a town that is burst­ing with op­por­tu­ni­ties for other sports.

Bray’s rise in the world of Wick­low hurl­ing is a won­der­ful achieve­ment, and de­spite a rel­a­tively bleak spell that has fol­lowed since their county fi­nal de­feat in 2017 when Gle­nealy thwarted their four-in-a-row dreams, they are back with a bang this sea­son with Marc as cap­tain and man­ager Paul Car­ley hav­ing tapped into the un­de­ni­able po­ten­tial within a squad of hugely ta­lented hurlers.

Hurl­ing in Bray and the far north of the county needs suc­cess to main­tain the drive, to fuel the pas­sion and in­still a love and a pas­sion for the game in the next gen­er­a­tion and the one af­ter and the one af­ter. That’s why if it is to be Marc Len­non climb­ing the steps to col­lect the cup from County Chair­man Martin Fitzger­ald it will not only be a mag­i­cal re­flec­tion on the work of Liam McGraynor, Chris Master­son, Christy Maloney and John Hen­der­son to name just a few, but it will also be a huge boost to hurl­ing in the town.

There’s an un­de­ni­able calm­ness to Marc Len­non, both on the phone and in per­son. The 24-yearold is softly spo­ken, en­thu­si­as­tic and oblig­ing and re­fresh­ingly pleas­ant. The Bray cap­tain be­gan hurl­ing with Bray Em­mets in their academy in Lough­lin­stown as a very young child and would have pro­gressed all the way up along through the ranks, lin­ing out in goals for some of his un­der­age ca­reer be­fore un­leash­ing his cre­ativ­ity and bound­less en­ergy out the field.

Marc was mid­field on that mag­i­cal night in Thurles when the Wick­low un­der-21 hurlers de­feated Meath in the All-Ire­land un­der-21 ‘B’ hurl­ing fi­nal in 2015 with, in­ter­est­ingly, Jonathan O’Neill Snr as his man­ager, and, no doubt, both will cross paths on Sun­day af­ter­noon with lit­tle thought given to the ad­ven­tures they shared on that won­der­ful jour­ney.

An ex­tremely ta­lented bas­ket­ball player for Pres Bray dur­ing his school days, Marc also cap­tained Bray to the Mi­nor county crown in 2013 when they came through a re­play bat­tle with Gle­nealy that year so lead­ing teams and play­ing in big com­pe­ti­tions is noth­ing new to the Bray Em­mets cap­tain.

Dur­ing our chat, we men­tion the afore­men­tioned dip in form of the Bray Em­mets Se­nior side since 2017 and since the step­ping down of John Hen­der­son Snr as man­ager.

Marc Len­non agrees that things went a lit­tle south for a time, but he says that man­ager Paul Car­ley has com­pletely changed the mind­set.

‘Hard to say where we went off track,’ said Marc, ‘We’ve been the same team for two or three years, we lost a body or two. The last two years Paul Car­ley has been bril­liant. He’s brought a real be­lief to the squad. He has us all rear­ing to go and we have all the young lads com­ing through, the likes of Davy Maloney, Ro­nan McMa­hon, Cian Lo­han. We have that com­pe­ti­tion this year,’ he said.

Marc is re­fer­ring to what can hap­pen in any club if a group of play­ers be­come too com­fort­able in their team and are not be­ing pushed for their place by other hun­gry hurlers just burst­ing for a chance. It’s abun­dantly clear that Bray’s per­for­mances this year (un­beaten in the cham­pi­onship) and their com­pet­ing in in the Dublin league has brought them a level of sharp­ness that has been ab­sent since the mov­ing on of John Hen­der­son Snr.

‘Paul’s a great man,’ said Marc re­gardng man­ager Paul Car­ley from Glynn-Barn­town in Wex­ford. ‘He’s got his own way of hurl­ing, it’s quick. Ev­ery­one wants to be on the team. Paul has ev­ery­one en­joy­ing their hurl­ing but if you’re not play­ing up to the stan­dard then there are peo­ple to take your place.

‘Lads can just get com­fort­able but this year ev­ery­one knows they have to up their game.

‘It’s great fun as well,’ added Marc. ‘He’s a great man to get the buy in.

‘We haven’t had that since John Snr left. There was a bit of a gap. It was very hard for Tommy Car­roll to come into that scene. He did his best but he pos­si­bly didn’t get the buy in,’ said Marc.

If buy in was miss­ing two years ago it’s cer­tainly not miss­ing this year. Un­beaten in the cham­pi­onship, ac­count­ing for Gle­nealy and Carnew in the league sec­tion and com­ing through a war against Pat’s in fright­ful con­di­tions in Aughrim in the semi-fi­nal.

‘It’s been a great cam­paign,’ said Marc. ‘Ev­ery­one’s tar­get was to get to the county fi­nal, and we’ve got there, and we’ve played some good hurl­ing. Prob­a­bly, last Satur­day (against Pat’s) was not our best game. Pat’s have been very well set up. Mick (Neary) has done a great job there and you al­ways have the threat of Andy (O’Brien) and ‘Dee’ (O’Brien),’ he added.

It’s Gle­nealy in the fi­nal, no strangers to Marc or his Bray Em­mets col­leagues. They top­pled Gle­nealy at the start of their won­der­ful run of ti­tles and as men­tioned it was Gle­nealy who took the great­est plea­sure in wreck­ing Bray’s dreams of a four-in-a-row in 2016 so the scene is set for a sav­age bat­tle come Sun­day.

‘We know we are in for a mas­sive test next Sun­day. They are the county cham­pi­ons for two years in a row and they’re a great team. They’ve young lads, the likes of ‘Bosco Jnr’ (Jonathon O’Neill), ‘Flash’ (Gary Hughes). It’s hard to say (where it will be won and lost). The work rate of both teams will have to be as­tro­nom­i­cal. It could come down to who is go­ing to get the goals,’ he added.

Marc Len­non says win­ning on Sun­day would mean ev­ery­thing to him and his Bray col­leagues. It would be a huge hon­our for him to lead what he de­scribes as a ‘fan­tas­tic group’ of play­ers and it would give hurl­ing in Bray a mas­sive boost.

Be pre­pared for a mon­strous bat­tle on Sun­day.

And if you look to­wards the trenches be pre­pared to see Marc Len­non toil­ing harder than most. He’s in­vested ev­ery­thing into this, his past and Bray’s fu­ture. Now it’s down to the present, and no bet­ter man than Marc Len­non to drive it over the line.

Bray cap­tain Marc Len­non on a mag­i­cal night for Wick­low hurl­ing in 2015.

Marc in Aughrim last Sun­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.