Future bright at St Brigid's
IT'S not every young player that has a future GAA president as a mentor, or indeed an All-Ireland winner.
Tim O'Mahony, the St Brigid's senior hurling manager, was among the chosen few back home on the Nore.
"Nickey Brennan was a great mentor of mine when I was growing up. He was playing with Kilkenny at the time," reflects Tim.
"Nickey, Christy Dooley and my own father were such a fantastic help to us young lads as we learned our hurling. They gave us so much encouragement.
"We played with Conahy Shamrocks. They became famous throughout Ireland when Nickey became the president of the GAA.
"As young fellas we trained on Tuesday and Thursdays, and then we hurled on every other night of the week as well.
"We lived in a rural area. Hurling was our life. Hurling is what we did.
"We lived in north Kilkenny. It was such a stronghold of hurling.
"You had the Hendersons, Billy Fitzpatrick, the Fennellys, Richie Reid and Maurice Mason, all those guys, and then from our own club you had the likes of Nickey and Kieran Brennan.
"There were all superb hurlers. We looked up to them so much and we were always trying to emulate them.
"I was fortunate myself to play for Kilkenny at under-14 and 16 level, plus minor for North Kilkenny. I considered myself lucky to have got those breaks. It wasn't that easy to do."
In 1993 work led Tim to the capital, and to Russell Park. This term they'll play in the Dublin Senior A Championship and in Division 1 of the AHL.
That has a nice ring to it. Brigid's were in the big time before -- the 2003 Dublin Senior Hurling Championship final against Craobh Chiaráin.
One of Tim's managerial colleagues, John Bourke, was also a Brigid's mentor that day. Previously John had been with the Craobh. John is the father of Willie, the Fingal number one.
"Craobh beat us that afternoon. They were a strong side and they had so much experience. Still, it was a memorable occasion for the club," remembers Tim.
Getting back there is in the distance. Brigid's are in Group A with Lucan, Craobh, Cuala, Jude's and Crumlin. Brigid's won the double last season -- the Senior B Championship and Division 2 of the AHL.
"Division 1 is where you want to be. That's where you'll get the kind of competitive matches you can expect in the Championship."
A one-point defeat away by Lucan on the first day confirms Tim's judgement.
"It was nice to win the Senior B Championship. We were relegated the year before, so it was good to bounce back.
"We know we face a huge task ahead. We are not fooling ourselves. But we have a fantastic young team here.
"The average age is 22-23. That's very young for senior. We have brought through a few of the under-21s, so it's looking good for the years ahead.
"We did extremely well in the Senior B Championship. We didn't lose a match. Our big goal this year is to consolidate ourselves in Senior A."
Brigid's have a few Dubs in their number. Among them are Alan Nolan, Sean O'Sullivan and Aodan McEnerney.
"I certainly believe that Anthony Daly coming in as manager has made a huge difference to how people approach hurling in Dublin," remarks Tim.
"Training has now become so different, even at club level. In terms of commitment, there's a lot more expected of players.
"Hurling has come on in leaps and bounds in Dublin. It's getting big support. I think a lot of people now view Dublin hurling in a different light.
It's great to see the game coming on," he concludes.