Raheny revival is talk of village
Carnival atmosphere expected for Super Sunday
IT began with an e-mail. It was the best team talk that Mike O'Brien ever gave.
Mike is managing the Raheny Junior B hurlers. Next Sunday afternoon, they play Na Fianna in the Dublin Junior F Hurling Championship at St Anne's Park.
"The whole club are coming down. We have organised mini-games."
Not so long ago, there was no sign of such optimism.
"We had several poor years of finishing last in the league and crashing early out of the championship," reveals Mike.
He decided to do something about it. Last November, he sat at his computer.
He e-mailed every member of the squad, outlining his objectives for the season and stating what effort he expected from them.
Commitment was at the core of his message. The replies in his inbox filled him with joy. "Every player agreed to come on board."
He remembers the first day back training. "January 12. Cold and dreary."
But the sliotar was spinning. And that was the main thing.
Mike brought last year's Dublin minor manager, Pat Fanning, in to give the lads a couple of sessions. And also Mark McManus of the Dublin County Board.
A new sponsor was secured, Signs ASAP. "They have given us great support."
A then came the first League match. A defeat to the very impressive Towers of Clondalkin. Towers top the AHL Division 9.
The second league game saw a win against St Joseph's/O'Connell Boys. And the mood soared with the opening championship victory against Whitehall Colmcille.
"We are hoping to carry on the momentum this Sunday."
Mike is expecting a stern test. Like Raheny, the Glasnevin club are mid-table in the league.
Group 4 of the Championship also includes Realt Dearg, who only formed in 2009 and who are at home in Drimnagh Castle. They opened with a championship success over the Mobhi men.
On Pitch number 9, Na Fianna will be keen to take the points back to Dublin 9. But they'll be facing a re-born Raheny.
"The squad have put in a monumental effort in turning their fortunes around. Shane Walsh and Cian 'Budgie' Burgess are brilliant co-mentors," says Mike.