Mark Bergin cites "workmanlike performances" for O'Loughlin Gaels' success in Leinster championship

They take on Dublin champions Cuala in the Leinster final this Sunday

Mark Bergin, O'Loughlin Gaels

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Earlier this year, O'Loughlin Gaels captain Brian Hogan said his side would not be satisfied just to get to another county final.

The club hadn't won a county title since 2010 and were beaten in last year's final by Clara, an emerging force in Kilkenny hurling.

"There was only two points in it, so there was probably a couple of mistakes that ultimately cost us," he lamented.

Fast forward 12 months and the feeling has transformed in the club. The bitter disappointment of 2015 was cast aside and replaced by a massively impressive victory over Kilkenny kingpins Ballyhale Shamrocks.

A subsequent victory over the reigning Leinster champions Oulart The Ballagh and belief within the squad has hit new levels, something Mark Bergin believes is down to the work put in off the pitch.

"This year we’ve had a spirit, a never say die attitude that we’ve shown in the Kilkenny championship and also the last day in the Leinster semi-final," he tells Newstalk.com.

"I think that’s really stood to us and that’s what we’ll pride ourselves on. We’re relying on our work-rate, there’s no special plan to win, we just have to go out and work harder than the opposition."

Bergin notched 1-8 (0-4f) against the back-to-back Wexford champions and explains that there is a grit to their performances this year which has pushed them to the next level.

"Things went well the last day I suppose, I think it was a real workmanlike performance. The lads were being fouled for the frees and I had to set up a few of my own scores.

"I suppose I got a really lucky goal, but overall I can only describe it as workmanlike. We’re absolutely thrilled to be looking forward to Sunday.

"We started off fierce sluggish. Oulart had us on the ropes really and I suppose that soft goal really stood to us. I think the 1-to-15 that we had and the three lads we brought on worked so hard. At this time of year it’s the type of performance that’s needed."

Mark Bergin celebrates after the final whistle as O'Loughlin Gaels are crowned Kilkenny county champions for the first time since 2010. Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Preparation for games during this time of the year is all the more important as conditions worsen and games come more frequently. 

"Training now is shorter in duration. You’re in and out in an hour. I think less is more at this time of the year. You’re just concentrating on the basics. You can’t predict how the weather is going to be like, but you can get everything else sorted so that’s what we’ve been doing in training."

They now take on Cuala, who like Oulart, have won their county championship title for consecutive years and are aware of the threat they carry.

"They’re a serious outfit. Any time a team wins their own club championship two years on the trot and gets to a Leinster club final for a second year running, you have to concede that they are a serious team."

Bergin also noted the impact of senior players on the team, most notably Martin Comerford who notched four points from play during the victory against Oulart and says that management have worked with the players by allowing them to express themselves during training.

"The management leave us alone to do the talking. All you need to look at is Martin, he’s 38 years of age. His experience alone is great for the other younger players who are coming through.

"In the backs you can look as far as Brian Hogan who’s got huge inter-county experience and in fairness to the management they let us do the talking.

"[Comerford] is a great clubman for us, again he was excellent for us during the second half against Ballyhale Shamrocks. He was the same against Oulart, he got four serious scores there. He seems to be getting better with age. It’s hard to replace a man like that.

"Having that around the dressing room, someone who has seen all the big games before, is just brilliant."

The Leinster final takes this Sunday at O'Moore Park (2pm).