Two Captains but there can only be one winner

garveylogo_web.jpgBy Murt Murphy for

"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is a hurling field, in an army, or in an office"
So no greater honour can you bestow on a man than to ask him to lead his side out in a County Final with almost the whole of his parish watching. That is in essence what the GAA is about and that's what will drive Ally O'Connor (Ballyduff) and Mike Lynch (Crotta O'Neill's) when they lead out their respective sides on Sunday.

There is a contrast between both captains - its in terms of expectancy- O'Connor is expected to collect the Neilus Flynn Cup because that is what Ballyduff captains do- Lynch knows that he collects the Cup - he will go into the history books as the skipper who ended that 43 year wait!

However Mike Lynch will not be alone as he will be accompanied by his twin brother Cyril and younger brother Matt, as the Lynch's will join their team-mates, knowing that they are rank underdogs to beat Ballyduff who are trying to post back to County Championship wins.
Interestingly while there will three Lynch brothers on the Crotta team, there are four Boyle brothers on the Ballyduff side!

For Mike Lynch, this will be the day he has waited for since he was boy- to lead Crotta O'Neill's out in a county final with almost the entire parish of Kilflynn watching and if he was to lead Crotta to victory, then he would help end a forty three year famine.
Does this add pressure to the occasion knowing that the 43 year old monkey is on the teams back?
"Well in fairness to the all the lads who are playing and all the back room staff, they have really being talking about that at all. It is a major factor on Sunday and I am sure it is a major factor for the older players in the club and the supporters but we will have to wait and see whether it is a good or a bad thing, and what affect it will have on us on Sunday. But there is no denying that the onus is on us and when you see all the flags up, you realize that you are not putting on the jersey for yourself alone but that you are also putting it on for all those who have gone before us. So I suppose yes - there is a bit a pressure creeping into the preparations this week. But I am happy enough that the lads appear to be handling that pressure well enough and that will be important" Lynch explained.
However the skipper who plays along with his twin Cyril at midfield admits that Crotta more or less fell into the final
"We did not do ourselves justice in any of the games; I suppose we fell into a county final more than anything else. We had a few good first half performances, but we never really backed it up. We had our backs to the wall in the semi final against Ballyheigue. All three teams that we beat along the way will be disappointed so we know how lucky we are to be there. "
Then there is the small matter of Crotta second half fade-outs in the Championship thus far - something that Lynch knows cannot happen on Sunday
"That is something that has puzzled us as well to be fair. We have played a number of challenge games where we have put it in for the full sixty minutes but when go to play in the Championship in Austin Stack Park, we just don't seem to be able to achieve it. Is it a curse that's on us in Tralee - I don't know, but we seem to fall apart more than anything else? Hopefully we will put sixty minutes together on Sunday against Ballyduff because we will need to. We will need to hurl for the hour if we have any hope of winning and I think all the lads know that"

Ally O'Connor is different sort of a leader - very little talk but he lets his hurling do the talking whether it be in defence or in attack. In fact only for an accident of birth he could be playing with Lixnaw just like his uncles and he is nephew of Moss Allen who captained Lixnaw in 1985.
Ally is a brilliant hurler and believes it's an honour to lead Ballyduff out in a County Final
"I would accept that this Ballyduff side has not won as much as they should have. That is what has what is keeping us hungry now. Bar our win in 2006, we were just drifting along rudderless in many respects until Jerry Wallis came on board. He reminded us all that we have only a limited time to win county championship medals and as this bunch of players have been around for a while, it was about time that we got serious about it. I suppose that is what has made us take the Championship more seriously and last year we trained hard from the start of the year and were more focussed, with the result that we went all the way.
We are hoping to do the same again but we know that we will have to match Crotta's hunger.
It's a great honour to captain Ballyduff but we have leaders all over the field and when we looked in a bit of bother late on against Lixnaw - the lads showed their battling qualities to see off Lixnaw. My uncle Moss Allen was captain of Lixnaw back in '85, when they won the county so I want to do the same because winning captains are the only ones that are remembered.
It would be great to join the list of Ballyduff winning captains - so many great names but that's for later - we have to win the game first and that is going to be difficult.
I am normally pretty relaxed so I will be concentrating on my own game - and helping out when I can. I don't care about winning margins - I respect Crotta and look at the damage Shane Nolan could do. So if Ballyduff will by a point I will be delighted"

So two young men with a lot at stake but only amateurs but both Mike Lynch and Ally O'Connor seem to be honest lads who are not too burdened by the captaincy but are more focussed on doing it on the pitch, and they both want the focus to be on the team ethic - lets wish both good luck on their big day.