Last Sunday was a day that Rathvilly supporters and players alike will never forget.
Their intensity levels and decision making throughout an enthralling county final at Netwatch Cullen Park proved too much to handle for five-in-a-row chasing Eire Og as Pat Ryan’s men were crowned champions of Carlow for the first time since 2014.
It has been a remarkable year to date for Rathvilly, defeating Eire Og in a memorable league final and going the whole year unbeaten along with Sunday’s result means they are the undisputed kings of Carlow yet again.
However, not many could have enjoyed creating history more than Rathvilly’s inspirational leader and captain Brian Murphy.
“It was the proudest day I ever had playing football,” a jubilant Murphy told KCLR’s Scoreline ahead of their first round Leinster championship clash with Louth champions Naomh Mairtin.
He added: “All of us take great pride in what we did, but for me, it’s how you make other people feel. To see what it meant to people that were there when the club wasn’t going well was incredibly special. That was very satisfying from my point of view.”
The ever-consistent free taker elaborated on why bringing a seven year wait for a county title to an end was “very, very special.”
“It doesn’t get any better than winning the county championship.
“It was very, very special and to see what it meant to everyone was unbelievable, When I saw everyone on the pitch afterwards, it was just surreal, and it was brilliant for the entire parish,” Murphy said.
The fact that there was a mere week between the final and the beginning of the provincial championship was far from ideal when it comes to celebrating their achievement.
Despite that, Murphy revealed that they did get the balance right between celebration and preparation throughout a “hectic week”.
“Championships are hard won, and we did celebrate because you do have to celebrate when you win a county championship.
“But we went back training on Wednesday, and we trained on hard again on Friday. We wanted to celebrate, and we did, but now all our attention is on the game on Sunday.”
The Rathvilly captain was adamant that the fitness levels throughout the panel proved crucial in making the year the success that it was.
He revealed that manager Pat Ryan had worked hard to get his players physically ready for a gruelling schedule.
He said: “We were very fit throughout the year and that has stood to us. We were unbeaten in the group games despite not playing too well in a lot of those games.
“I think a major reason for that is our fitness levels and that’s a testament to our manager Pat Ryan who has had us in great shape from the start of the season.”
Rathvilly were major underdogs amongst most commentators heading into last weekend’s decider against a hyper-successful Eire Og team who were off the back of four consecutive county titles.
Murphy admitted that their underdog status was a motivational factor for the team to raise their levels in a repeat of the 2020 final.
“What drove us on was the fact that nobody really gave us a chance. As well as that, we didn’t perform in last year’s county final so we knew if we performed that there would be very little in the game.
“We defeated them in this year’s league final too and we felt that if we performed, which we did, that we would have enough to get over the line.”
He finally mentioned Sunday’s game with Naomh Mairtin, exclaiming that “he doesn’t have a clue” about their first-round opponents.
“I don’t know anything about Naomh Mairtin and the whole team is in the same boat.
“We’ll worry about our own game and while I’m sure there are certain players that play for them that we will have to target. But it’s up to us to play well and the result will take care of itself.”