Brothers Pearse midfielder Stephen Frawley (pictured) has attributed the club’s Intermediate Championship and All Britain success this year to an impromptu meeting outside a pub in Kilburn.
The day after the Pearses’ one-point defeat to Fr Murphy’s in last year’s Intermediate final, a players’ gathering at the Kingdom Bar suddenly turned into a summit, at which the seeds were sown for the club’s return to senior, and a crack at the Club Championship.
“We called everyone outside and had a meeting in the alleyway beside the pub. We made our minds up that day that we were going to give it a big effort this year, and it paid off,” said Frawley.
Pearses had led Murphys by six at one stage during the second half, thanks to a quick-fire goal double from Eoin Shiels and Paul Uniacke, only to overhauled right at the death with Sean Howlin scoring an injury-time winner.
“That was the worst day I’ve ever had on a hurling field, and we came back more determined than we’ve ever been,” added Frawley, who helped London to National League Division 2B success in 2013.
“Last year, we thought we were going to win Intermediate no hassle, but it didn’t work out like that. We decided that day that 2017 was going to be our year.”
It’s certainly been their year so far, beating Thomas McCurtains in the Intermediate final by an emphatic 19 points, and Manchester’s Fullen Gaels by 11 points in the All Britain final.
Saturday is a further opportunity to create a bit of history for London’s oldest existing club, which marks its centenary in 2020, as Pearses look for a first-ever Club Championship win.
And Frawley knows only too well the importance of grasping such opportunities with both hands when they come around.
In 2013, he captained Pearses to a Senior county final in his first year with the club, only to lose to St Gabriels by 3-16 to 2-5. It was the club’s first Senior final appearance since their 1998 triumph, and a day he describes as a “big disappointment”.
Just two years later the club was relegated to Intermediate after losing to Cuchulainns in a play-off, and defeat to Murphys in last year’s final delayed their return to senior ranks.
“After that 2013 county final we lost four or five of the starting team. We gained a few lads, but they maybe weren’t of the same standard, and interest waned a little bit after that final. We went into a bit of a downwards spiral,” said Frawley, who hurled for Limerick at U21.
“But we’ve really taken our chance this year. We’ve played some tough games since the county final [vs Thomas McCurtains]. John Mitchels was deadly [All Britain semi-final], it was a fierce tough game, and most of us had never been up to Fullen Gaels before.
“It just goes to show the spirit of the lads – they really want it this year. Hopefully it will show on Saturday as well.
“We knew ourselves that if we put in the effort we were good enough to win an Intermediate final, and go on and win an All Britain final.
“We’ve really gelled this year. There’s a real togetherness in the whole team and a real fighting spirit, and that’s what we were missing last year.”