By Michael McMullan
BUZZING, it’s that simple. Rathmore are embracing the build-up to a first MacLarnon Cup final in 16 years and Deaglán Mooney’s excitement is growing as Friday approaches.
After captaining the school’s hurlers in their Casement Cup final defeat, getting back to another final is perfect timing.
“The whole school is buzzing,” Mooney said at Rathmore’s recent press day. “We know coming into the game there are going to be a few tasty footballers.
“We know it is going to be a tough match but we have put in the training and I think it will come down to hard work.”
Since their semi-final win over Milford, teachers who didn’t teach him since first year are stopping him in the corridors to offer a message of good luck or chat about the preparations.
Inside the team itself, there is a special bond. That’s the magic feeling of playing on a school team that offers the togetherness fostered by being in each other’s company.
“There are ten of us that have played Gaelic (football) and hurling the whole way since first year until now,” Mooney said.
“We have been in C (grade) the whole way up and even to get to B is a massive jump. There is a serious competitiveness in it and the teams are completely different.”
The level has lifted. The fitness and the skill has been ratcheted up notch. Their return to MacLarnon Cup level last season was a tough ask, a chastening experience.
Five players have since moved on to university and the coaching team, under Gearóid Adams’ watch, got to work.
“We’ve just put in so much hard work since the start of the year,” Mooney said, pointing to their 7am Monday morning training sessions to get the bodies primed for the challenges ahead, for games like Friday night’s final
“There was more preparation this year because everyone bought into it.
“Last year was a bit lackadaisical; people weren’t showing up to trainings and not really giving an excuse.
“This year everyone has just bought into it and Mr Adams has bought into and the training has been 10 times better.”
Last year teams ran over the top of them and Mooney remembers conceding “something like 2-4” to his marker in a heavy defeat at the hands of St Louis, Ballymena.
“We woke up after we got put out last year,” he said. “Playing C is a good standard, but it is not as competitive and tough. Going up into B, we thought it was going to be the same a wee walkover and we’d be going out for the craic.
“Now playing, you realise there is a meaning behind it and it is competitive.
“It is good craic going out and playing with your mates, getting out to the pitch twice a week to train.”
Now Rathmore are through to Friday’s final and a date with destiny against St Joseph’s, Donaghmore.
The Rathmore squad will again embrace the underdogs tag as they go in search co the school’s first title.