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Captains Call: Aidan O'Reilly and Ian Maguire. Picture: George Hatchell
Captains Call: Aidan O'Reilly and Ian Maguire. Picture: George Hatchell
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Barrs captain Maguire: If you're playing well, actions speak louder than words

IAN MAGUIRE, the St Finbarr's captain, makes a convincing case about Sunday's county football final against Nemo Rangers at Páirc Uí Chaoimh (4pm) being just another game, albeit a major one.

The 23 years-old midfielder, who starts work as a trainee accountant with Grant Thornton in Cork at the end of the month, suggests the only difference is him leading the lads behind the band in the pre-match parade.

“The one thing that hasn't changed is the pitch, which will be the exact same as it was. It's a big pitch, a hurling pitch really, but fellows are looking forward to playing there. When you're small and growing up all you want to do is play in the big games against the best teams,” he said.

And Maguire also believes that Nemo won't have changed either, if even the new surrounds clearly offer different perspective.

“Nemo don't change. They play quality football. They've fellows like Cian McWhinney, Stephen Cronin, 'Tucker' O'Brien, unsung players really who've done their bit. Then, you have Tomás Ó Sé, Paul Kerrigan and the rest. What's impressed me is Nemo's balance,” Maguire added.

Ian Maguire and Michael Shields. Picture: David Keane.
Ian Maguire and Michael Shields. Picture: David Keane.

Between city and Cork under-age teams, and UCC, the Barrs skipper is good friends with the Nemo contingent, having missed them at minor level in their 2010 and 2012 county final triumphs.

“We couldn't avoid them at U21, though. We would have played a lot against Kevin Fulignati, Stephen Cronin, Alan O'Donovan, all quality players and real competitors. I'd be good friends with Steve and Alan, having played with them with UCC in recent years.

“I loved playing football with College because you're playing with fellows you wouldn't normally be playing with, the Kerry lads, for example. I'd be very good friends with Adrian Spillane since Freshers. College football is just under inter-county standard, but you're playing good, competitive games in January and February and I think it definitely improved me as a player.”

Maguire captained the Barrs minors in 2012 in a team containing defender Sam Ryan and attacker Enda Dennehy.

“It's great to see fellows progress, but I don't place too much emphasis on the captaincy because there are a lot of leaders in our team. If you're playing well, fellows will follow your lead and in this game actions speak louder than words.” 

Ian Maguire, St Finbarr's, in action against Stephen Coughlan, Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ian Maguire, St Finbarr's, in action against Stephen Coughlan, Ballincollig. Picture: Larry Cummins

Still, making the final must have been the furthest thing on the Barrs minds following the second-half collapse against Ballincollig in round one.

“The feeling was a mixture of frustration and disappointment, a bit like the way it ended in the quarter-final last year. We felt we had the left the game behind us. Still, it was only the first round and we had injuries.

“We just re-grouped, got everyone back and decided to just train hard and see where it got us. I think it's hard to put your finger on any one reason. Getting momentum helped and we started playing well.” 

There's no doubt the Barrs have momentum following wins over Newcestown, CIT, Ballincollig and defending champions, Carbery Rangers, in the semi-final.

“We learned from every game and I believe we're a very fit, athletic team, though we lack experience compared to Nemo, Ballincollig and Carbery Rangers.

“We would liked to have played the second round a bit sooner and then maybe wait for the Newcestown game, but there was a very long delay after the first Ballincollig game.

“Then, we had a run of games, third round, fourth round and quarter-final which gives you momentum, though there's a downside in picking up injuries. Now we've got an opportunity against a superb Nemo team, who know all about winning counties.

“They've played county finals at Páirc Uí Chaoimh whereas we haven't. We will be up against it, but it's a big opportunity to prove yourself. We've been getting better with each game."