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Hughes Appreciating Golden Years

February 10th, 2023

Success has become a habit in Naas CBS over the past decade, and the collective effort required to bring about memorable afternoons like yesterday’s nailbiter victory over Moate Community School is something that Cormac Hughes really wanted to appreciate, as he basked in the glory of their 0-11 to 0-9 win, and the sight of joint captains Charlie Murphy and Austin Brennan lifting the Brother Bosco Cup.

“It’s funny, schools football is so different to any other form of gaelic football” said the Longford native, as the celebrations unfolded across Laois Hire O’Moore Park.

“You need to have the backing of your school, you need to have good coaches throughout the school, and you need so many other things going your way, and we just have that. We’ve a great crop of players coming through, we’ve high level coaches at every year training every team. We had just two lads that started last year, a lot of the lads came through the junior team that won the Leinster last year. We’re getting lads that are able to come straight in and perform at this level, which is so important. And the big thing is knowing what it takes. We’ve seen lads that took teams before us and they got the school up to a level, and we’ve just tried to emulate them!”

The school’s status as champions, with a successful junior team also ready to graduate to the elite level of schools football, meant that they were earmarked as championship favourites before a ball was kicked this year. Big wins over Marist College and Scoil Aodháin in the group stages of the competition meant that there was an aura about the school all over the province during the Christmas break as supporters speculated about the big knockout games that were to follow in the new year, but Hughes knew that things were about to get a lot tougher.

“It’s like two different seasons. Before Christmas, everything was going smoothly, perhaps too smoothly you could say. Now we had a couple of challenge matches over Christmas and they were really tough games. We identified what was going right and what was going wrong then” he said.

“Coláiste Eoin were a very good team, they really pushed us, and Coláiste Choilm of Tullamore are a very good side as well. We’ve had tough path to the final this year, and then obviously Moate in the final, an outstanding outfit with huge men up the middle and they’re a savage team. So those games stood to us, if we didn’t have those, then I doubt we’d have been as ready for what we faced today”.

And what they faced was a Moate team with incredible depths of athleticism, power, and a bottomless competitive instinct.

“The first half was a dream, probably the best 30 minutes we played all year” Hughes reflected.

“But Moate were too good a side not to have a crack at it, and it took everything we had to hold on. Ryan Sinkey’s score at the end, the subs made huge contributions too – Cian O’Reilly catching ball, Daire Gilmartin, even Finn Ryan for the last two minutes made a couple of stops to slow up the Moateattack”.

So now, after the school has played in five consecutive finals, winning four, is it starting to become routine?

“It’s one thing we’ve always said: do not take these days for granted. Naas CBS were the first Kildare school in 95 years to win this, so it’s not guaranteed, and you have to enjoy them when they come along” was his refute, his words corroborated by the sight of players posing for joyous photos with family, friends, and with their playing colleagues.

Naas CBS are on the crest of a wave, and when it takes so much collective effort to bring about magical days like these, they’re determined to enjoy them.

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