By Oisín Duddy
CASTLEBLAYNEY hurler Niall Garland says that hurling is the only thing on their minds as they prepare for this weekend’s Twinning final against Sean Treacy’s in London.
The Monaghan side qualified for the Twinning Cup game (effectively an All-Ireland quarter-final) with victory over St Eunan’s, Letterkenny in the Ulster Junior final a fortnight ago.
Now they’re turning their attentions to this weekend’s Twinning Cup game and experienced Monaghan player Garland says they’re determined to qualify for the semi-finals of the All-Ireland.
“I know people enjoy winning Ulster titles, but we went straight back into work for preparation to go over to London, and we’re not just there for a trip, we’re over there to do a job, it’s hurling and hurling only.
“You can go over to London any time to see the sights, but where going over there, to earn the right to play the Leinster champions in a All-Ireland semi-final two weeks after that.”
Castleblayney were close to winning an All-Ireland in 2019 but fell short to Kilkenny’s Dunnamaggin on a scoreline of 1-17 to 1-13. But the Faughs side had the top scorer in the championship with Fergal Rafter scoring 3-48 in six matches.
This is Sean Treacy’s first time playing in the All-Ireland series, with the South London side winning the All-British Hurling Championship in style, beating Warwickshire’s St Finbarr’s 4-21 to 1-10
Garland os expecting a really tough challenge, and Ulster sides have been caught before.
“We are under no illusions at the task before us next week over in London. They’re (Sean Tracey) British champions, they have a lot of pride over there, like last year Kilburn beat Setanta, and now Setanta are playing in Ulster Intermediate final, so we definitely under no illusions regards the task that we are up against. It’s a great team that we are going to play against and we are looking forward to it.”
Garland has played against London many times when he was wearing the blue and white but it looking forward to going wearing the club colours instead: “It’s a great occasion, it great to represent you club, sure most times when I got abroad, its usually in a Monaghan jersey. It’s nice this time to represent your club, not to many club teams can say they done it.”
Before Castleblayney beat St Eunans in the Ulster Junior final, they suffered a defeat in their own county championship final to Inniskeen but they got the opportunity to play in the Junior Championship in Ulster.
Garland says it was the reality check that they needed but is happy with how things have gone in the mean-time: “We were bitterly disappointed on what happened in Monaghan, these things happen in sport and we can do nothing about that in the minute until next year in the Monaghan Championship.
“But we had the option to sit there and cry about it or we dust ourselves off and get back on the horse and try and win Ulster championship, and thankfully we did, we have a lot of character in the team, they’re boys who are all mad to improve themselves.”