COOLDERRY captain Brendan O’Meara is hoping there will be an extra special guest – the coveted Tommy Moore Cup - at his deferred wedding ceremony on Friday, April 13.
Brendan was due to walk down the aisle with Lorrha girl Jessica Kennedy on the eve of St Patrick’s Day however hurling commitments and the lure of a possible AIB All-Ireland Club Final appearance forced the couple to reschedule the happiest day of their life.
The holder of three Offaly SHC medals, 2004, ’10 & 11, Brendan explained, “We were due to get married on March 16. We would have booked that date a year ago or more. I suppose it is a great situation to be in to be honest.
“If someone told me that (we’d be in an All-Ireland Final) a year ago I’d have been delighted. So we’d to change the date of the wedding.
April 13 is the new date.”
And how did Jessica react? He replied with a smile, “Jessica is from the same area as Ken Hogan. She enjoys her hurling as well. She was very understanding and we’re happy with the new date now.”
Brendan missed out on playing in Coolderry’s 2010 county final victory over Tullamore owing to injury and he joined Trevor Corcoran on the steps of the O’Connor Park stand to accept the Sean Robbins Cup.
But twelve months later he’d the distinction of collecting the silverware as they put titles back-to-back for the first time since
1961 – ‘63 and last November he became the first Coolderry man to accept the O’Neill Cup.
He is hoping to add the Tommy Moore Cup to his haul but cautioned, “We are not under any illusions. We are up against a very good team and we’ve our work cut out for us. It would be fantastic and brilliant for the club. We’re going to go out on the day and have a huge battle.”
Brendan, who’d a stint on the county senior squad and won a Division 2 NHL medal, was also with the Offaly minors in 2000 as they won the county’s fourth Leinster MHC title so he is no stranger to Croke Park.
“The club final is a new experience and we’re looking forward to it and we’re trying to prepare for it as well we can.”
His first cousins John Paul O’Meara and Paul O’Meara won All-Ireland club medals with Birr and Brendan said he would have ‘chatted to them’
“I would have played against them for a good few years. Birr had an exceptional team and even in the county final it was very close and we were fortunate to win it on the day. It was very tight.”
In fact, back in 2006, Brendan was Coolderry captain when they lost to Birr captained by his cousin John Paul after a replay, and their fathers Peter and Eamon, were the respective club secretaries that year also.
Brendan is 29 and says there are plenty of leaders in Coolderry.
“There are a lot of older guys the same age as myself and they’ve played senior hurling for a long time. Certainly we’ve a lot of leaders throughout the squad.
“We’ve a core group of players there for a number of years and we’re probably fortunate enough that in the last few years we’d a lot of good young players coming through and they were hurling well at U-21 level in Offaly, they won the U-21 in 2011. The talent was there to come through. So we’ve a good blend and the younger lads have pushed us on a bit further again and freshened things up.”
He said the ‘hurt’ experienced by Coolderry after their 2010 Leinster Club exit against Raharney, 0-14 to 0-17 in Mullingar, helped drive them on during this campaign.
“We hadn’t come out of Offaly in six years at the time. We were inexperienced really and then again we played a Raharney team that deserved to beat us so we couldn’t have any complaints. Certainly it was motivation again for this year to go that bit further. But we’d a difficult enough challenge getting out of Offaly in the first place really and we didn’t look any further than that either. It hurt at the time.”
In eleven games en-route to Saturday’s showpiece Coolderry has conceded just six goals, including just one in their last four encounters against Birr, Ballyboden St Enda’s, Oulart-the- Ballagh and Gort. But Brendan, whose sterling displays at left half back have contributed to this ‘mean record’, isn’t getting carried away.
“We conceded a few chances in some of the games early on. Gort and Oulart had early goal chances against us so we’ve work to do as well.”
He rates Loughgiel Shamrocks very highly. “Looking at Loughgiel, they’d a great win in the semi-final and looked very impressive and we know we are going to be up against it. For us, it is about playing as good as we can on the day.
“We know we are going to be in a tough battle. We’ve worked hard and trained hard over the last few months and we’ll see where that leaves us and hopefully it will be enough.”