Ballygiblin coach Ronan Dwane resembles a sort of rock star on sporting a mane of shoulder length hair that has nourished in growth since the commencement of their championship campaign back in the summer of 2021.
No signs of a trim right now, the presence of the genial Aghada man on the Ballygiblin sideline has delivered long overdue positivity into the North Cork outfit, the latest episode saw Dwane enjoy the atmosphere on a special occasion on two neighbouring clubs clashing in a hyped up decider before Ballygiblin delivered a trademark response.
“There is great character and grit in the side, holding our composure all through the campaign, coming out on the right side of games during the closing 10-15 minutes,” he said.
“It was nip and tuck, we were under no illusions as to the task in front of us, Darragh Flynn was a huge loss, but Joseph O'Sullivan stood up in a pressurised situation to take over the free taking duties.
“Conditions were tough, Ballygiblin ahead, conceded a goal, for the opposition to score a goal energises a team and crowd, importantly, we pointed in injury time to edge ahead at half time”, said the former County Board Coaching officer.
“Overall, we defended well in the opening half, probably giving away a couple of frees. Still we were pleased, there is a feeling of an advantage on playing into the scoreboard at Mallow and there was some comfort to the fact that we were facing into that end for the second half”, said Dwane.”
And Ballygiblin appeared to gain an upper hand early in the second half after Seán O'Sullivan netted the first of his two goals.
However, the concession served to shake up the Tipp representatives that concerned Dwane and company.
“The spell after our opening goal was worrying for Skeheenarinky answered with a pair of points to leave just two between the sides at the water break. However, Seán's second goal gave us some breathing space, taking on his man, his eye to find the net is deadly and he again obliged.”
Though finishing eight points ahead, Dwane could never relax until the dying embers of the game where the bragging rights belonged to Ballygiblin.
“In fairness, Skeheenarinky kept chasing, our 'keeper Chris Noonan made a great save and in the follow up action, they hit the side netting.
"Those closing minutes had a great feeling to it, relief and absolute elation at the full time whistle,” he said.
Dwane looks ahead to a novel All Ireland semi final against Fullen Gaels and expects a competitive battle as the race for ultimate glory intensifies.
“They are no strangers to this championship, winning a British title and overcoming Ulster champions Croabh Rua in a quarter final. Previously, Vincent Morrissey from my own club Aghada was involved with Fullen Gaels, it's going to be a tough battle, they will want to get to Croke Park as much as Ballygiblin do.”
Meanwhile, Dwane has no intention of seeking an immediate appointment to a barber's saloon and is hopeful the journey on the hurling field will bear further fruition.
“I never thought that the hair would have grown so long, as long as Ballygiblin are involved in this championship, it’s definitely not going to be cut,” he quipped.
The All Ireland stage awaits Dwane and his troops, little time to think about a barber with a ticket to Croke Park at stake!