Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré have been hunting the Paddy Buggy Cup for some time - in 1999 Roscrea CBS, Roscrea Vocational School and the Sacred Heart Secondary School amalgamated.
Since then Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré have appeared in seveteen major finals, but lost All-Ireland finals in 2001 and 2011. Team manager Willie Smyth (working alongside selectors Oliver Egan and Liam O’Brien) has proven a key influence on the team since 1996. For Willie Smyth from there to here has been a long journey.
“Yeah,” Willie Smyth agreed with the Tipperary Star, “but a good one though.”
When Cross & Passion College got off to an enthusiastic start to take a 0-4 to 0-1 lead Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré refused to panic and carefully worked their way into the game at Nowlan Park on Saturday afternoon.
“We struggled a bit in the first half, but coming up to half-time we got a few scores and we got back into it. The goal was a huge boost. It probably was a bit lucky, but we will take it,” Willie Smyth told the Tipperary Star.
“We conceded goals like that in ’09 and in ’11 and in the vocational schools finals as well. I suppose it’s all about swings and roundabouts. Maybe we were due one.
“This makes up for everything.
“The manner in which we won it and to score 2-16 in a final to me is magic; some of the points that they scored from play were absolutely brilliant. The hooking, blocking and the closing down by our backs was phenonmenal.”
“We just concentrated on our own game,” Willie Smyth added as the Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré manager considered the strengths of the Ballycastle team.
“We didn’t do a whole lot of research and I didn’t have a whole load of information about them. I knew they were physical and strong, but we concentrated on ourselves.
“We knew we had a good team, but you don’t know what will happen on the day, obviously. They were a team, that’s the one thing that they were. I sensed that with the way we came through Munster. There was always a great team spirit there and it was building all the time.”
Eighteen years of hard toil has finally yielded an All-Ireland title for Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré and Willie Smyth.
So, what now for Willie Smyth? Retire?
“Absolutely not,” Willie Smyth insisted.
“This will keep me going for another ten years”.