If a captain’s role is to lead by example, then Brian O’Reilly certainly fitted the bill for Shanballymore last Friday night.
After Bantry Blues had reduced a six-point deficit to the minimum, and appeared to have the momentum with them, it was O’Reilly who did most to derail the West-Cork side’s recovery in the dying minutes
In setting Colman O’Reilly for a point and posting another himself, he ensured that Shanballymore remained in front until the finish, and his personal tally of five points from play is testimony to how invaluable his contribution was overall.
“I’d be happy enough with my own performance, and I regard it as a great honour to be chosen to captain the team this year. But it’s only a title at the end of the day, because, apart from going up for the toss and collecting the cup, my job was no different than any other player, and you could see tonight there are leaders all over this side,” he said.
“It was an excellent team performance that got us through, but we knew coming up that Bantry were always likely to bring out the best in us. They showed in the semi final against Dromtarriffe, who were in the final last year, just how good a team they were, so we were under no illusions we would need to perform better than we had all year in order to get the win. Thankfully we did that, and even the subs who came on made a difference,” he pointed out.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win a county title, and it’s a great boost for the club, because we haven’t enjoyed much success over the last fifty years or so.
“It’s a reward for all the hard training we have done since January, and I have to say it’s a privilege to be involved with such a dedicated group of players.”
O’Reilly said he was always fairly confident Shanballymore were playing well enough to win the game, although he felt they should have done better in the first half when they wasted a lot of chances.
“We were just a point up at half time, and we knew coming out for the second half that we had to put in a serious effort. The goal from Dylan O’Callaghan gave us the start we wanted, and we drove on for a while, but we had to dig deep after Bantry came back at us near the end.”
“We are going up to junior ‘A’ now, and we’ll be hoping to make a mark there next year, but the season isn’t over for us yet, because we have the North-Cork championship to aim at in the coming weeks. We’ll be going all out to win that, and it would bring the curtain down on a truly memorable year for the club if we do.