Saturday 10 December 2016

Henderson plays down hype in Bray's bid for history

Barry Lennon

Published 15/10/2016 | 02:30

The All-Ireland winner has been keen to play down the hype should anyone get ahead of themselves.
The All-Ireland winner has been keen to play down the hype should anyone get ahead of themselves.

Not many Kilkenny men dream of writing history in the Co Wicklow hurling final but former Cats corner-back and Bray Emmets manager John Henderson does.

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He led the club to its first successful title defence last year and could again enter the record books when his charges bid for three-in-a-row against Carnew tomorrow.

The All-Ireland winner has been keen to play down the hype should anyone get ahead of themselves.

"The only time it (a third consecutive win) crops up is when people want to interview you or want to psyche you out. It's just a number," he says. "People are insatiable to put these type of numbers together. So we just belittle the talk of numbers."

Henderson has three inter-county Championship victories (1979, '82 and '83) to his name, having played under his brother Pat and Eddie Keher's Kilkenny management duo, Fr Tommy Maher and Ollie Walsh.

This CV makes him an authority in the one of the game's weaker counties, and rightly so says the former Johnstown Fenians clubman.

"Well if you didn't bring that with you what would they listen to you about? If you don't command that type of respect what hope have any of us got?" he says.

"I've learned some traits from all of those (managers) and they make you what you are. You have your own approach to management but it's small things you take, the hand on the shoulder and phone call during the week."

Exotic

The 59-year-old's experience in Black and Amber should seem exotic in the Garden county but he insists it's not how he's viewed in Wicklow, living there since his playing days in the 1970s.

Back then Henderson travelled back and forth to Kilkenny to hurl before he joined Glenealy to see out his final playing year, and in doing so, claimed a Wicklow crown against Carnew in 1996.

Since retiring he has managed his adoptive county, Cuala and Dublin's U-21s but his hurling wisdom has reaped most reward with this Bray side, which includes his two sons John Jnr and Daire.

He concedes that they and his investment in the team make this side "special", having instructed many of his players since they first took up a hurley.

Bray will have a stiff test when they line out against last year's runners-up who are keen to avenge defeat.

"It'd be reticent of me not to be confident. I've to be confident in the ability of the players. I've to trust and believe in them," Henderson says.

"Regardless, I always want to drive things on and to further the cause of hurling in Wicklow. I think I'll always be part of the DNA in Bray."

Irish Independent

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