It’s very rare that a special group of players and an equally special manager are put in a position to join forces and achieve something that would otherwise have been unattainable.
However, that is exactly what happened in the Kilkenny junior hurling championship this year as Blacks & Whites defied the odds to win their first county title at the grade since 2009.
Led by manager Eddie Scally, who has been in the role for four years, they had the perfect blend of youth and experience along with incredible mental fortitude that saw them come through tight games with Emeralds, Piltown and finally Windgap to deservedly claim the crown.
Filled with humility but a refreshing assurance and confidence, Scally’s side embodied the manager’s characteristics throughout the season to secure their return to the intermediate ranks for 2023.
While they now have a provincial campaign to look forward to which begins against either Clonguish Gaels or Ringtown Hurling Club on November 12th, it was all about celebrating their 1-17 to 0-17 defeat of Windgap in the decider at UPMC Nowlan Park on Sunday.
Speaking after the game, Scally paid tribute to the players, his management team and gave an insight into why he has committed to this group.
He began: “I’m just delighted. I remember talking to Adrian Ronan a couple of years ago and I asked him if I had stayed with the team for too long a period and he said ‘if they’re improving, you stay with them. If they’re not getting any better, you need to walk away.’
“After that, I just felt that there was more in this team and that’s been proven today.”
“We said it in the dressing room before the game that the younger lads had to drive on the older lads and that’s what happened today. The whole panel just has character in abundance.
“Windgap are a fantastic team and we all know that. We reiterated that to the players before the game and we knew that at some stage they would gain control of the match.
“When they had their purple patch, we hung on and crucially we did not concede a goal and we kicked on again which got us over the line.”
“When you put as much effort in as our management team has, it’s just elation at the full-time whistle because you realise that it’s all been worth it then.
“Our entire panel deserves this so much and I could walk on water after this win. It’s unbelievable.”