John ‘Tweek’ Griffin: “People Are Taking Notice Of Kerry Hurling”

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Gavin O’Connor speaks to Kerry hurling captain, John ‘Tweek’ Griffin, about Saturday’s victory in the Christy Ring Cup and where Kerry hurling goes from here…

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John ‘Tweek’ Griffin in action. File Photo

IT was a special weekend for Kerry captain, John ‘Tweek’ Griffin, who along with walking up the steps of the Hogan Stand to collect the Christy Ring Cup, brought the chalice back home to Lixnaw for the victory celebrations on Sunday night.

“It was fantastic to be around family, friends and teammates, it’s something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives,” he told on Monday.

“Only a select few in their lifetime get to go up the steps of the Hogan Stand and collect the cup. We got a great crowd as well last night. It wasn’t just Lixnaw people either, they came from all around North Kerry and beyond,” he said.

It was a case of third time lucky for Kerry, who had tasted agonising defeat in the two previous Christy Ring deciders.

“We’ve lost a few of these finals so it’s nice to come home with a victory. They say you have to lose one to win one, so we really appreciate it after the couple of defeats,” he said.

“People are taking a bit more notice now of Kerry hurling. We’ve had a fantastic year, with the promotion to 1B as well. We’ve never had as much exposure at home and nationally as well,” he said.

It really has been a landmark year. Along with entry into the Leinster championship preliminary round next year, they have earned the right to face the likes of Clare, Limerick and Wexford, in Division 1B of the Allianz National Hurling League.

Even so, the Lixnaw man has his feet firmly planted on the ground and he knows the huge task that is ahead of them.

“It will be nice to have a few of those teams down here next year. They should draw a good crowd, it will be great for supporters to see the likes of Tony Kelly (Clare) down playing here,” he said.

“Laois, Carlow, Westmeath have been consistently performing, so that’s the level we’ve got to get to. It will take a lot of work to do that, but the lads are prepared to do that work. Seeing Laois beat Offaly over the weekend – that’s the level we want to get to.”

“This is the best prepared Kerry hurling team I’ve been involved with, but we can’t be under any illusions either. Division 1B is a massive step up, physically, mentally and every other way you can think of.”

“After such a great year, I know that fellas will go and challenge themselves again. In the past, Kerry hurling teams were able to get the odd win here and there, or maybe the odd good year, but they mightn’t be as good the year after.  So if we can drive on next year it will be great for the kids in the county to show them that we’re a serious team and we’re serious about our hurling,” said John.

Kerry will have to make do next year without playing at their regular home of Austin Stack Park which will be under development for the entire league campaign.

“It’s not really a issue for us. They had to do a bit of work on it and that’s it. Obviously it would be nice to have a few of the better sides there, but if we had games in one of the pitches in North Kerry it would gather a massive crowd and have just as good an atmosphere,” he said.

While giving the speech, ‘Tweek’ broached the possible idea of a team holiday in Thailand or Miami at the end of the year.

“I probably mentioned it a couple of times! The last time we won the Christy Ring we went to Thailand for 12 days. If we can get something at the end of the year it will be just rewards for the players. It would be nice to get a bit of sun,” he said.

The beaches of Koh Samui or Phuket won’t know what hit them.

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