IT’S been a slow burner of a season for Ardclough.
Defeats in the group stages against Celbridge and Sunday’s final opponents Naas left them staring at a do or die game against Clane with their season on the line.
That clearly brought the best from the team and goals in both halves from Tony Spain helped them secure the win. That set up a semi-final game against Confey and led to two closely contested affairs. Confey were four points up late on in the replay but an Eoghan Walsh goal helped save the day for the Ger Buggle managed team and he feels those two games will bring his team on massively.
“They were two good, tough games against Confey. They are a good strong, physical team and we matched them in many areas, and won in many areas in both games. At the end of the day we were probably a bit lucky to get the result that we did. At one stage it looked like there might be extra time but we got the goal we needed and then got a point off that. We were delighted to get over that and into a final. We were in a final two years ago and it’s 11 years since we won it, it’s very important for us not only to get in it but to get in it and then go on and win it,” he said.
“Our league form wasn’t great, it was up and down but we got into the semi-final, where we played Naas and they bet us well.
“We beat Eire Og in the preliminary round to get into the winners group, which I think is very important to progress, we put a lot into that. Then we lost two games, against Naas and Celbridge. Naas beat us by I think ten points, we hurled well that day for 40 minutes and then fell asleep. Overall it was great to get things back on track against Clane to get into the semi-finals. I think those two games against Confey in the semi-finals will stand to us. The last eight weeks here have been very good, there’s a buzz about the place,” said Buggle.
The perception is, with the likes of twins Tony and Robbie Spain and former county star Richie Hoban, that Ardclough are an ageing team but Buggy was at pains to point out that there is a new breed of hurler coming through at the club.
“Going into that final two years ago, it was probably half and half between experienced lads and young lads. We blooded a lot of young lads over the last two years. We’ve a panel of 28, 19 of them are under 28 years of age. That’s very important, people say Ardclough are an ageing team, we had lads more senior than anywhere else probably but they are all worth their places, we have some real good young lads coming along too,” said Buggle.
The man who got that crucial goal in the semi-final win over Confey is one such young player.
“Eoghan is a good young lad but he’s one of many. All they need is time and they seem to be coming right at the right time. There’s a great blend between youth and experience. Everybody is in it for each other, there’s no one man better than another here, everybody is working for each other.
“We were out here training and had 28 lads on the field but there were another 20 standing looking in, more senior lads, lads who have great history with the club. We are very proud, traditional club, we have 12 senior Championships and we hope on Sunday to add our 13th,” said Buggle.
Somebody who is steeped in the history of the club, Buggy’s pride at leading the team out on county final is obvious.
“Going back years ago we have the history of the Walshs coming up from Wexford, the Burkes from Galway, Dwanes, great hurling people. They stuck in the club and built it up over the years. There’s some people that I am forgetting but they are the ones coming to mind. The Christians, Richard Cullen, lads like that, great men in their day and they took on the best of them. Now we have the more senior men, Colm Buggy, Richie Hoban, the Spains, lads like that.
“I’m born and raised in Ardclough and hurling and the GAA is my life, Ardclough GAA club has a proud tradition. We had a manager earlier in the year and due to work commitments he had to step away and I was asked to step in along with Dermot Coulston, Paul Hogan and Andrew Whelan. There are other lads in the background always willing to help out.
“Our strongest point is commitment, there’s a hell of a commitment here with these 28 players. Their attitude in a game is colossal. They are after building among themselves that they won’t take no for an answer, that’s all we want. On the day, whatever happens on the day, as long as we get 100% out of the 20 lads we use on the day it will be good enough for us,” said Buggle.
There’s no doubt they will start Sunday’s game as underdogs but that won’t deter them.
“We would never fear Naas down through the years. We give them the respect they deserve but as far as anything else, we’d always think we could match them on any day,” he said.