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15th Nov 2023

“I’d say Brian has had a match every single weekend since he was about 12.” – Naas flying the flag in both codes

Niall McIntyre

The handiest thing for Naas supporters these days is just to leave the flags up all-year-round.

Such has been the success of their four adult teams over the last while that they haven’t got the chance to take them down.

Their camogie team were beaten in Leinster last weekend but for their hurlers and footballers, the show goes on.

It’s made for a long season but, as the provincial club championships head for their semi-final stages, it lends them the distinction of being the only club in the country to still have an interest in the senior hurling and football championships.

Their footballers are on the road to Mullingar this Sunday, where they’ll take on St Loman’s in the Leinster senior football semi-final.

Seven days later, it’s a shorter trip to Hawkfield where Dublin champs Na Fianna are the opposition in the hurling equivalent.

Busy times indeed.

Tom Noone knows all about it as club PRO – he can hardly remember their last weekend without a game – but nobody knows it better than their three dual players Brian Byrne, James Burke and Daire Guerin.

Guerin is a young player who won an All-Ireland under-20 championship with Kildare last year while Byrne and Burke are key members on both teams.

Noone says the club’s two managers Joe Murphy (football) and Tom Mullally (hurling) have managed their dual players brilliantly.

Brian Byrne leaves the field after Naas’ loss to Ballyhale Shamrocks last year in the Leinster semi-final.

“I’d say Brian has had a match every single weekend since he was about 12,” says Noone.

“He’s gone from being such an important player with the club underage, to the school underage and then with the county in both codes. That’s not evening mentioning college, where he won a Sigerson Cup with UCD.

“But he just keeps going.

“He’s an unbelievable role model to our younger players. The same goes for James and Daire too. We’re delighted to have three guys who are able to do that.”

“Tom and Joe have been around a long time,” continues Noone.

“They played themselves, they know the story and they understand the demands. It’s not rocket science and to a certain extent, the players would be involved in the decisions as to when and where they’ll train and so on.”

Noone says that, across both codes, the ladies side of the club included, there is a great camaraderie between the players which ensures Naas have a great support on match-days.

“Across the two teams, there’s huge friendships because they’d have played together all the way up, in both codes.

“The footballers would fill the stands up when the hurlers are playing, the same with the camogie and the ladies football teams. They all support each other, which is great.”

Unlike rural clubs, where a lack of numbers can be the problem, one of Naas’ biggest issues is a lack of space. Their pitch committee has never been busier but no team is ever turned away.

“Every single night of the week, it’s a struggle to put teams on fields. We’ve 92 teams, we use halls, astro pitches all over Naas. We rent, we hire. We never turn a team away. As the town has grown, we’ve grown too. That’s all down to our pitch co-ordinators.”

But days like these make it all worthwhile.

“In some cases, like my own house, the flag hasn’t come down at all. It stays up all year round.

“Wherever you go, if you’re queuing up in the shop, everyone’s talking about it, what more could you want.”

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