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06 Oct 2022

BIG INTERVIEW: Michael Brazil under no illusions about task Tullamore face on Sunday

Michael Brazil under no illusions about task Tullamore face on Sunday

Michael Brazil, second from right, in action against Rhode.

TULLAMORE and Rhode are no strangers to each other as they come face to face in the Offaly Senior Football Final for the third year in a row on Sunday.

Tullamore joint captain Michael Brazil says the team are right where they want to be at this stage but is under no illusions about the task they face on Sunday. The finals in the last two years have been extremely tight, going right down to the wire, and Michael expects Sunday's final to be no different.

Last year's final went to a replay so Michael noted “we have won one, lost one and drew one as well, so this is the fourth one as such. It's great to be back in the final, that was our target at the start of the year so it is great to be back there now again.”

Rhode provide the opposition again and while Tullamore are now challenging them again, he has great respect for Rhode's achievements

“Rhode have been dominant for a long, long time and we're starting to get up alongside them and compete with them but they are a serious outfit and a serious team and you see how they came through their group and they got another victory against Ferbane, who are a good team. We struggled to get over Ferbane this year in Ballycumber, barely got over the line against them, and you saw how Rhode beat them, and even when they were under pressure, they still found a way to win, that's what they do.”

But the joint captain has been happy with Tullamore's form throughout the year.

“We drew with Ferbane in the league, beat them in the final and won all games in the championship. There were performances in there that we weren't overly happy with as well. Even the last day against Edenderry the first 10 minutes was a bit of a hot potato with the football from both teams, you attack, we attack that kind of stuff, but it's stuff we have to work on. If you do that in the first 10 minutes against Rhode you will be five or six points down and chasing the game, so we have lots to work on but overall you would have to be happy with the year,” he added.

Tullamore find themselves in a bit of a different situation this year as they will go into the final as favourites but Michael says “it doesn't make a difference to us. For us it's Rhode again and it's probably the same for them. I don't think it makes a difference to them who is favourites or what the bookies say, it is going to be an absolute dogfight of a game, that's what both teams expect and probably what will happen on the day.”

There has been talk about the fact that is is 1926 since Tullamore last retained the title but he said that is something that can't affect the players.

“It's probably something more we talked about at the start of the year when we came in and had our first meeting and said that is probably something that we should target, being a team that breaks that, but it hasn't been mentioned since and I don't think it will be mentioned in the run up to the final. There's no point saying we talked about that at the start of the year and set it out as a target to achieve and break that nearly 100 years but it won't be talked about.

“It is something that I hadn't realised until last year when people started to talk about it. It's a crazy record really. It would frighten you really how inconsistent we have been over the years, especially. My own experience of it is 2013 and we weren't seen again until last year, which is a long time to go from getting to a final even. This is our third final now so hopefully we are beginning to get rid of some of those demons within the club,” Michael stated.

Tullamore have some exciting young talent coming through and Michael has been impressed by them.

“I was at the game in Gracefield (Under 20 final), they were very impressive. Not even the football side of it but the way they tackled, worked together as a unit, it was very impressive. I stood here last year and talked about the talent coming through, John (Furlong) and Cormac (Egan) and Oisin (Keenan-Martin), and unfortuntely for John and Oisin they are carrying serious injuries, but thankfully Cormac is back now Daire McDaid is there, you have Ben Heffernan, you have Luke Bourke coming out of school. If you get a few every year it is great for the club. For fellows like myself it is a great lift to see lads coming through, pushing you in training and you learn new things off these lads that you didn't think you would be able to, so it's great.”

He agreed it was important that older lads are there for the younger lads.

“Yeah, when we are giving out of them in training they mightn't tell you the same but I think there is a good bond in the camp now. There is a gap between some of us older lads but there is a good connection between the players. The same way they'll come to me, sometimes I'll go to them and they could be seeing something different than I am and it's good to bounce things off them and the same way they'll come to us and have a chat about things.”

But he was quick to point out that it works both ways. “I've been called out this year by Luke Bourke and Ben Heffernan for not passing the ball. These lads aren't afraid when they are coming through and they are well able to speak their minds and let you know if you are making a mistake as well. When a lad like that is giving out to you, you know you've probably done something wrong.”

Michael is now 31 and at the stage where it does get harder to mind the body.

“A little bit but for me, this year now, having taken a step back from Offaly and just concentrating on club has helped me big time. In fairness the lads have looked after me and thankfully the body is doing well. I would have done a lot of gym work when I was younger but concentraing more now on stretching and recovery and that has helped me.”

There was a point in the semi-final when the linesman had his flag up for three minutes while play continued on following an incident involving Michael, but he said he wasn't worried what the outcome was going to be once the referee spoke to the linesman.

“I wasn't worried as I knew what had happened but it is probably something I need to be cleverer about as rightly or wrongly, I probably have a bit of a reputation of being a bit of a hot head and reacting to things when I get a bit of pushing. I shouldn't get myself into that situation. In the heat of battle you are not thinking and you should be a bit calmer but at the start of a game if things aren't going right you give a lad a bit of a shove and you are not expecting a lad to go down. Worst case scenario was a yellow but I was hoping I wouldn't get a yellow but that's all it was.”

Getting a yellow card so early in a game means you have to tread very carefully and be very disciplined after that to avoid another card.

“It is something I have been trying to work on not to get the early yellow. Last year in the semi final against Ferbane I got an early yellow and they had no choice but to take me off before the end of the game. He's probably right to do it but at half time he said you're on a yellow be careful. It's just about being disciplined and not picking up the early yellow and it's something I will have to watch for the next day. The experience teams like Rhode have is they know how to get after you but it's part of the game. I should have known better but I'll learn from it,” Michael said.

But he added, that that is the kind of player he is and has always been. “I can't take that physicality out of it, that's the way I play, I play on the edge. Hopefully it's within the edge of not getting the card but sometimes it goes over and you have to be careful and make sure not to get the second one.”

Later in that semi-final Michael went forward and kicked an important free.

“That was probably a new one for a lot of people. It's something I looked at during the league that we probably didn't have (left footed freetaker). Harry is usually our free taker and is a great striker of a ball but anything out a bit wider I started practicing them. You don't get many during a game but you have to be ready to go up - old dogs new tricks – it went over anyway.

“You have to practice them. I won't say I'm out every evening kicking frees but at the end of every training, I'll kick 10 or 15 balls from certain positions where Harry doesn't want to take them and Johnny is probably the same with the 45s. It's probably not something we are relentlessly practicing but practice enough that when we are called upon we can deliver,” he added.

Now it's all down to next Sunday and Tullamore certainly won't be going into the game with any fear or Rhode.

“No, I don't think there's any fear and Rhode won't be fearing us either. Both teams know what each other is about and it is just going to be a very very tough game and both teams are probably going to have to raise their standards from where they were in their semi-final games but we're looking forward to it,” Michael concluded.

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