IT’S the stuff that dreams are made of, a small club on the Northside of Cork city travelling to Croke Park to play in aAll-Irelandnd final.
Many are called but few are chosen to get this once in a lifetime opportunity and for the players involved it’s the pinnacle of their careers.
Mayfield is an old club with a very rich heritage that goes from strength to strength with every passing year and, as they say, behind every good team is an equally good administration.
John Brenann is chairman of Mayfield, has been for long time and during his tenure he has seen the club become one of the most thriving units of the GAA.
The club today boasts of top class facilities, three playing pitches, a very impressive seated stand, six dressingrooms and a new, sand based pitch.
Now, however, the talk of the town is the club’s junior hurlers and their date with destiny tomorrow against Kilkenny’s best from Mooncoin.
They will certainly be hoping to prevent any rendition of the famous, old song, ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’ up in the Hogan Stand at the end of tomorrow’s game.
When he spoke to the Echo during the week the sense of pride at the achievement of the players and mentors and the support of everyone was very evident.
“When I became Chairman 25 years ago I never thought we’d be looking forward to a day like this.
“These are days I suppose you can only dream about but with everybody putting in a huge effort it has now come to pass and we are in Croke Park tomorrow to play in an All Ireland final.
“Firstly, it’s down to the players themselves, they have put in a phenomenal effort for the best part of 12 months now and they all but gave up their Christmas to ensure they’d get this opportunity.
“They are a fabulous bunch of guys, highly focused, very educated , very disciplined and they have done this club very proud.’’ The club chairman has strong words of praise too for the management team who have guided them all through this remarkable journey.
“Yes, we have a great management team with Seamus Lawton as coach and Martin Cronin, Jim Walsh and Joe Sheehan as selectors who have done a massive job as well.
“We brought in Seamus from Castlemartyr in 2015 and I must say his approach has been very professional.
“He’s an outsider but he gelled with everybody up here very quickly and we are lucky to have him.
“Of course he’s following in the footsteps of people like John Boyland and Finbarr Kiely who did trojan work for us too.
“Finbarr was behind bringing 27 trophies at various levels to the club and you couldn’t buy what he has done for the club.
“We have so many involved behind the scenes too and I must mention Sean McCarthy our games chairman at underage.
“He’s another who has given so much to this club at all levels down the years.’’ The local business community has rowed in behind the team as well and Brenann is very thankful for that.
“Of course, we are fortunate that this is a community effort. The local business people, Cormac O’Connor Butchers, Irwins Pharmacy, Bourke’s Pharmacy, the Cotton Ball, McMahons, Donatellos, O’Donovan’s off licence, Crestfield Cabs, Hennessy’s Bar and the local Credit Union who give us major support.
“I must mention the local parish priest too, Fr Michael Keohane, he’s our unofficial PRO who is a great asset for us.
“I must mention Mayfield Soccer club too and their support for us, it’s everybody in the community getting behind us and bringing it all together.’’ The club today boasts a facility second to none and the work is ceaseless.
“Yes, we’d be very proud of our facilities now. I suppose the best part of two million euros has been spent down the years in constructing our complex and what it is now.
“We have three full size pitches, an all purpose gym, six dressing rooms, four of which were built last year and we have a sand based, all weather pitch.
“Our next ambition is to fully floodlight that pitch, it will cost around one hundred and eighty thousands euros with fencing but it will be worth it.’’ Financial support for all these ventures is very necessary and Brenann is quick to point that out.
“I suppose firstly the modernising of the club began with a lot of help from Bernard Allen back in 2002, obviously we had to resource ourselves and there was support too from the Dept of Sport, the Munster GAA Council and Cork City Council.
“You must be in a position too to manage those resources and that requires good management on the part of a lot of people.
The road to Saturday’s showdown with Mooncoin has had to be negotiated with a lot of diligence, step by step through the city, the count, the province and the penultimate fence of an All Ireland semi-final.
“Yes, it’s been a long campaign for the lads but they have taken every game as it came along. We had to defeat our great rivals Brian Dillons in the city and that was, obviously, a big win for us.
“I suppose nobody gave us any chance in the county final against Sars but the management did a great job in making the players believe and they dug very deep to get that win.’’ Immediately after that win the decision was easy to make to try and go far as they could outside the county.
“You must remember you are representing yourself, the city and your county and you want to do well.
“Every game brings its own challenges and it was a great day for us up here when we got to host the Munster semi-final against Bodyke’’ Now it’s the best of Kilkenny and Leinster.
“It’s another huge challenge for the players. They are from Kilkenny and they’ll be good but we are confident in our own ability to get the result.’’ And the future after Saturday.
“We want to keep attracting the younger players into the club. That’s a big challenge. We’d have around 100 lads between eight and 18 and we want to be in a position to get more of them in here.
“This will help of course, youngsters are watching this team being successful and, hopefully, they’ll want to follow that.
“Our aim is to see as many youngfellows up here with hurleys in their hands. Success breeds success they say and that will hopefully happen.’’ At the end of the day of course it’s all about the effort of people volunteering to get involved in the club.
“”Yes, we have a lot of younger people taking on roles in the club now. You have past chairmen like Adrian Green and I must mention our Complex manager Kevin O’Donovan who does great work.
“We have our Dinner Dance in Silversprings on March 11th and we’ll definitely have three major trophies on the table that night.
“But everybody’s aim now is to make that four tomorrow in Croke Park and that would really be something.’’ It would indeed.