OOLA is near the Limerick-Tipp border but you would think you were in Cork this week as the village is festooned in red and white.
The club is looking forward to their first senior county final since 1980 on Sunday against Newcastle West. Oola last won it 1979.
Principal of Oola NS, Liam Guiney feels right at home as he is from north Cork. His club Duhallow is in the Cork senior county final on the same day but you will find him in the Gaelic Grounds. Mr Guiney’s pupils spelt out Oola in giant letters in the yard on Monday and it was expertly captured by Tim Crowe with his drone.
“It is an absolute massive achievement for the club and for the parish but for the kids there is a huge interest in football because of it which is massive. The boys and girls, staff, parents, everybody is getting behind the team - it is really bringing everyone together.
“There is loads going on in the school - art, geography, history, PE - it is all based around GAA this week. Every day we are doing something new to build momentum - decorating a blackboard, putting up bunting. The GAA club are coming in to us on Thursday. It is all about building the excitement,” said Mr Guiney.
Children of players attend the school and in Oola you can’t bate breeding. There are massive links to the last time Oola won in 1979.
Club chairman Pius O’Grady lists them off without a thought. He starts of with the player / coach of the 1979 team, the late Padjoe Bourke who has three sons on the panel - Ian, John and Keith. Padjoe’s brother Donal was also there in ‘79.
Current captain Eoin Fitzgibbon, his father Sean was centre field 40 years ago. Eamon Landers had two uncles on that team - John and Tommy. The towering Josh Ryan’s uncle Joe was corner forward in ‘79.
Jimmy Guerin was centre-back. He is the maternal grandfather of Limerick hurler and talented footballer Darragh O’Donovan. Darragh’s dad James is an Oola and Limerick football legend. James’s dad Jim was on the triumphant Oola team in ‘61.
Darragh is joined by his Limerick hurling teammates - Pat Ryan “Simon”, Richie English, Barry Murphy and Mikey O’Brien. They packed some O’Neill’s footballs along with their swimming togs for Barbados.
Also on the ‘61 team was Kieran Bourke, current president of Oola GAA. His grandson Ciaran is on the current panel. And off the field Daniel Quirke is a selector - his uncle Davy Quirke was on the ‘61 team. Davy was then a selector in ‘79. While the late Willie Burns has two children involved - Sinead as club secretary and Tony as physio.
“There is a great tradition in Oola. There are big links between every winning team and the previous winning team
“Being in the final has given the whole place a bit of a lift. We started Gaelic4Mothers & Others a few weeks ago and we have 25-30 involved. We have massive ladies football participation with over 100,” said Mr O’Grady, who praises the collaboration between Oola and their sister club - Doon GAA.
He says they are going in as underdogs and there is no pressure on the team.
Oola GAA Club are hosting an RTE style Up for the Match night and table quiz in Neily's Bar on Saturday to get everyone in the mood for Sunday’s final.