Jerome O’Connell previews Ballybrown’s Munster Club IHC quarter-final against Cork champions Ballinahassig on Monday, October 29, at 2pm.
AFTER waiting seven years to climb back out of the intermediate ranks there was little time for prolonged celebrations for Ballybrown with Munster club action this Bank Holiday Monday.
The newly crowned Limerick champions must travel to Cork to play their premier intermediate champions Ballinhassig.
And, it will be a tough task for Ballybrown against a side that were only relegated from the senior grade last year and have made an immediate return to the top level.
Indeed Ballinhassig won the 2005 Munster intermediate club title, before losing the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny’s Dicksboro.
They will have Cork panellist Martin Coleman in goals and also look towards; Brendan Lombard Fintan O’Leary and Danny O’Callaghan.
Ballybrown manager Christy Keyes was a member of the last two panel’s from the club to play in the Munster club - albeit at senior level.
“Whatever happens from here is a bonus,” he said.
“We went through to the All-Ireland final in 1990 and you never know what could happen again,” said Keyes.
“We are delighted to be going to represent Limerick again,” said Keyes, who was a member of the panel beaten by Ballyhale Shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day 1990.
“At least the monkey is off our back,” he said of the county intermediate win.
“This has been a long time coming and I am delighted for this group of players. They have been there for the last couple of years and I have seen them first hand and the way that they have trained and applied themselves is unreal.”
“They were unlucky last year and we came in this year and just put a bit of belief in them.”
Keyes said that it was self belief that made the difference in 2012.
“They were knocked from pillar to post and called every sort of thing,” recalled Keyes of recent years when Ballybrown came so close to glory.
“We tried to put belief into them so that when the games got tough and when they were in a tough game that they could win them. All they had to do was knuckle down and believe in themselves and play for one another.”
The addition of Clem Smith and Dave Mahedy to the back room team helped inspire the players.
“They trained away like no other team in the country and are brilliant guys,” said Keyes.
Six points in the opening nine minutes set Ballybrown on their way to victory.
“We got a great start and that is vital in matches like this - we were here for the semi-final when Dromin-Athlacca got a great start and it swings in roundabouts and today it was us that got the start. Our backs were brilliant and our forwards took their chances in the first half and in the second half we kept the scoreboard ticking over.”
But Dromin-Athlacca did hit back and ask questions of Ballybrown.
“They got five points in a row but our lads didn’t panic - we knew they would come back and get more scores.”
If Ballybrown win they will play Ballyduff (Kerry) in the semi-final on November 4 at a Limerick venue.