DISCIPLINE. Values. Camaraderie. You can have all the talent in the world, but Omagh CBS manager Diarmaid McNulty says that nurturing the personal qualities of his players has been absolutely crucial in their run to the brink of All-Ireland glory.
It’s fair to say primadonnas aren’t tolerated on the Brothers team. Hard work and discipline has been a major part of the McNulty mantra – but it’s ultimately for the betterment of everyone involved.
Part of the only Omagh CBS team ever to win a Hogan Cup title – until tomorrow, one hopes – McNulty said talent alone was never going to suffice to end their drought at MacRory level.
“It was 16 years since we won a MacRory and we’d a couple of tough, tough battles to reach the final.
“A lot of hard training was done, and it broke down myths in the lads’ heads about what needs to be done to succeed at this level.
“You have to do things the right way and we’ve tried to maintain that the entire year, whether it’s their attention to their uniform or anything else.
“It’s about setting a standard, that’s the minimum of what we expect. We’ve brought back the tradition of having training on Saturday morning, and if it starts at 8am, we expect everyone to be there on time and ready to go. There’s tea and biscuits afterwards and I think the boys have really enjoyed being part of it, it’s a very tight-knit group.”
Warming to the theme, McNulty says it’s also been pressed upon the players not to neglect their academic studies. Easier said than done when they’re playing in the biggest games on offer at this level?
“We reminded the boys after the Hogan Cup semi-final that they’re students first and footballers second. Their studies are very important because that’ll determine where they go in life. Life’s more than just football – try telling that to a 17 or 18-year-old but it’s the truth.
“At the same time football is a great platform for the boys to show off their skills and qualities and they’ve shown that in bucketfuls and we hope it continues.”
McNulty more than played his part in Omagh CBS previous Hogan Cup win back in 2007, weighing in with three points in a surprisingly one-sided contest against Tralee CBS.
Asked what it meant to him at the time, he said: “Winning the Hogan Cup as a player was amazing. It was the dream to play in that competition. Coming into the school, I suppose I was already thinking about playing in the MacRory Cup. This current crop have all the talent in the world and it’s been about nurturing it and now showing that on a national stage.”
In the long run, these players will take differing routes in life – some may become high-level county players and others may drift away entirely. But they’ll never forget days like these.
“This is one group and one goal,” said McNulty. Some will go on and play amazing football and others may head elsewhere, but they’ll always look back on their final or penultimate year at the school very fondly. They’ve trained very hard together, have enjoyed the process and played some really good football. They’re a great bunch of boys to coach so it’s a joy to be a part of and I truly believe we have another big game in us.”