THE pain was clear to see on the faces of all connected with Monaleen as they departed the field in Killarney this time last year after receiving a footballing lesson from Dr Crokes.
Sunday will be their fifth venture into the provincial championship and they will be the first to admit that they haven’t set the world alight outside of Limerick.
There was a Munster final appearance in 2002, but despite the talents at their disposal they haven’t troubled any of the big guns from Cork or Kerry.
Fuelled by the memories of last season, it appears that they are adamant that 2011 will be different.
Guiding their quest is the man that led small west Clare outfit Kilmurry Ibrickane to a St Patricks Day All-Ireland final appearance two years ago, Micheal McDermott.
“Given the talent that is at our disposal it has to be an ambition,” said McDermott of Munster success.
“After the county final we were back training on the Thursday night with the aim of having a right go at the Munster championship,” revealed McDermott.
“It is a most difficult draw but we are prepared well. It’s something that we spoke about earlier in the year when the number one goal was to retain the title and that was always going to be difficult. After that the second aim was the Munster club and everyone really wanted to give it a go.”
McDermott, who brought Clare side Kilmurry-Ibrickane to an All Ireland club final, brought his side down to the Cork venue on Bank Holiday Monday for a “dry run”.
“We know that we will have to up our performance,” he said of their county final win over Newcastle West.
“This year we have put a lot of energy into the Munster club. Its a massive challenge but its one that we don’t fear.”
Monaleen played Listowel Emmets in a challenge game last week and for Sunday, McDermott hopes to select from a full squad with Eoin Keating (hamstring) and Muiris Gavin (ribs) hoping to prove their fitness.
“Having to travel away makes it even harder but we went down there and its a lovely set-up with a perfect pitch for this time of the year,” said McDermott, whose side are 11/4 outsiders to beat the students.
“Home advantage is a big factor and like all College teams they are riddled with talent but we think that we have the talent to beat them and we have trained well.”
UCC won the Cork title for the 10th time, beating Castlehaven by 1-12 to 0-10.
Two of the stars of that success were Daithi Casey and Johnny Buckley but they are club-tied with Dr Crokes for the Munster championship.
But still the students are firm favourites and among the short-list for provincial and All-Ireland honours.
Team captain, Sean Kiely is one of six Corkmen on the starting fifteen which featured no fewer than eight from Kerry, plus one from Roscommon. The prize for Sunday’s winner is a home semi-final against Moyle Rovers of Tipperary on November 20.
If Monaleen are to advance, they certainly will have to find their best performance of the season.
At times they have been guilty of going through the motions in the county championship - so much so that they had to rely on results elsewhere to advance from their group. They should be a more experienced outfit than those bearing the skull and crossbones.
At this time of the year, much comes down to pure grit and determination and only time will tell just how hungry Monaleen are for success. All their big names will need star performances if they are to record a memorable win.