JUST a few weeks after his 23rd birthdat Paudie O’Brien bids to captain Kilmallock to their 10th Limerick senior hurling championship this Sunday.
WHEN Kilmallock were knocked out the championship last season at the quarter-final stage it afforded Paudie O’Brien an opportunity to build for the future.
To-date the midfielder has certainly profited in 2012.
“We were knocked out early last year and there was no excuse for not going at it hammer and thongs for a few months and it paid off,” outlined O’Brien this week at a media launch by sponsors Limerick’s Live 95FM ahead of Sunday’s Limerick SHC final.
“Everyone has to improve on something and me and Gavin needed to bulk up a bit and put on that bit of strength,” explained O’Brien of the extra gym work undertaken by himself and Gavin O’Mahony.
O’Brien has benefited. Already he cemented his place in the midfield of the inter-county side with some explosive displays against Clare and Kilkenny in the championship and now he stands on the brink of captaining Kilmallock to club glory.
“I’d make no secret of it that its out there playing is where you want to be and not on the sidelines,” he explained.
“It’s a very very tough team to get on with quality all over the field. I know that I have to go back again next year and work like everyone else to get on the team,” he said of the Limerick set-up.
The gym work was overseen by Paudie’s brother Adrian.
“Adrian is an excellent trainer and has come on board with us in Kilmallock this year. He mightened like me giving him a bit of a plug but we did do a lot of training with him,” said O’Brien with a laugh.
In his first year as Kilmallock captain, the opportunity on Sunday is not lost on the 23 year LIT student.
“It’s the biggest honour for me to captain my club. All I ever wanted to do growing up is to hurl for my club and to captain your club to a county final is huge and I am well aware that it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Some great men have lifted that trophy from Kilmallock and I’d be so proud to follow them.”
O’Brien said that he can draw motivation from looking across the county at fellow finalists Adare.
“Conor Fitz and lads like that have five county medals and thats outstanding and great credit to them. That’s something that I admire about them that they have the drive to keep going. There will be a day that we won’t be able to do this and you have to take all opportunities while you can,” explained O’Brien.
The captain explained that the first step towards regaining their title from Na Piarsaigh was securing the services of Tony Considine.
“There is no secret that we have great time for Tony out in Kilmallock. There was absolutely no blame put on him after what happened against Patrickswell last year - that was 100% our (players) fault, it was a lack of concentration. I’m not taking anything away from Patrickswell, they deserved to win on the day but it was our own complacency that caught us and it shows that there are good teams in Limerick that will punish you if you do that,” he explained.
“We managed to talk Tony around after a long while and we got a few people to come on board and thank God it has worked out so far.”
They dethroned the champions in the semi-final, but O’Brien has warned that a repeat performance is needed on Sunday.
“It all counts for nothing if we don’t win on Sunday - we are under no illusions that we have a huge battle on Sunday. We know that it will be a very tough task on Sunday. Adare are a very fine team and they have quality all over the field. We know that if we are not on our game on Sunday that we won’t be winning,” he said.