WINNING the first staging of an event is a special feeling. Retaining the title makes it feel that bit more special as St Annes did in the Scratch Gents Inter-Club last Saturday in Tullamore. Communications & Press Officer spoke to team captain Frank Dineen about the Cork club’s win and the pressure and expectation that comes with having some of the game’s most marquee names within the club’s ranks.
WHEN he was writing out the team sheet and the order in which his team-mates were going out in for each side they encountered all the way this way, Frank Dineen admitted to a certain degree of confidence about how his team would fare on each occasion no matter what order they were in. Only once did it prove to be misplaced, that being the club’s defeat in their first group match with Tramore but Frank feels that the team coped well not only with the sense of expectation about how they would fare but also with the desire of everyone they faced to claim their scalp. “Everyone wants to beat us, not only because we were the defending champions this year but because of the sheer quality of players that we have. It’s tough to go out and perform under these circumstances with each and every match but this truly is a special group of players who just don’t know when they are beaten,” the team captain said.
No more was this apparent for Frank in the performances of Darren Collins and Liam Myers throughout their campaign. “Darren had two monumental Singles matches between Sean Minogue (Lakeside/Riverdale) in the quarter-finals and John Walsh (Collins/Fermoy) in the Final and he never gave up in either of them and thankfully got his reward. Liam Myers did something similar for us against Erins Isle and while it might look easy now that it’s all said and done believe me there were at least five or six occasions where we could have been beaten or knocked out this year,” Frank said. In the two years of the competition, St Annes have only lost three matches, Collins and Bruff (2013 Group Stages) and the aforementioned opening fixture with Tramore back in April. Indeed the knockout stages started a little earlier than expected for the team according to Frank. “Our last Group game against Collins/Fermoy was knockout because if we lost that night we were out. We have a good rivalry with Collins within Cork and it’s always a big occasion when you play them because you have in essence two clubs that are good enough to provide Inter-County teams on their own. The final scoreline of 7-2 is actually very misleading because no match in the Singles was settled until the 16th hole,” he said.
Indeed such was the quality of the players on show in the decider that all bar one of the Cork team that dramatically won the Anchor Cup at the same venue three weeks earlier was in action but Frank feels it’s the internal battles within Cork that bring out the best in St Annes. “The Inter-Club is very similar to the format of the Cork Leagues (which St Annes coincidentally will be looking for their fifth consecutive title in) and we have some very tried and tested partnerships that are very much helped by the fact that we all get on well with each other,” he said. The St Annes captain is a big fan of the Inter-Club competitions in their various guises. “I really think it gives the ordinary club player their day and moment in the sun. For us in particular I think about the likes of Tadgh Murphy, Liam Myers, Ian Leech and John O’Sullivan who might never win a Munster or a National as a Singles player but they can feel part of something special when they play in a team event like this,” Frank said.
While Frank along with Kieran Dunscombe, Darren Collins and Ray Murphy may be the recognisable names, Frank give us an interesting insight into the latter, one than reveals far more about Ray Murphy than the all-conquering player he has been over the last decade. “Ray missed the Semi-Finals & Finals last year and while it was a test of us to win without him in Bruff, I’m delighted for him to have experienced this year’s success. He cuts the surrounds on the course and he is also the club’s Juvenile Officer alongside playing the game at a high level each and every so I think that’s says a lot about how much Ray loves the game.”
The nature of the beast being what it is St Annes will harbour hopes of three-in-a-row in 2015. They will start as the team to beat but as they’ve proven this year, it’s the sort of expectation that they can cope with and indeed thrive on.
That concludes our look at the winners from last weekend’s events, next week we look at the return of the Provincial Juvenile Matchplays along with the Provincial Schools events which will be taking place over the course of next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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