Jerome O’Connell looks forward to Kilmallock’s Munster championship clash with Thurles Sarsfields this Sunday.
TWO years ago Thurles Sarsfields came to Kilmallock and returned across the Tipperary border with a 2-10 to 0-11 Munster club semi-final victory.
They were powered by recently crowned 2010 Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett and powerhouse defender Pauric Maher.
As it turned out Kilmallock kept the influence of both to a minimum.
But despite having home advantage in Fitzgerald Park it was inaccuracy in front of goal that cost The Balbec.
They hit 13-wides on top of other missed chance as they attempted to write a new Munster club chapter for the former provincial champions.
Indeed that day was the only championship game all season that Tony Considine’s side failed to score a go and that’s what proved the difference.
For a vastly ambitious squad that defeat, in front of their family, friends and supporters in their ground, hurt.
Throughout the recent county championship they atoned for their failures in 2011 but this Sunday they get a rare chance to atone for that Thurles defeat.
“It’s funny really out it worked out to bring us together again,” said Kilmallock captain Paudie O’Brien this week.
“We are really really looking forward to it. Maybe back in 2010 it was a novelty for us to win the county and we didn’t go back training till the Friday and maybe took too much out of it but this time we were training hard on the Wednesday and Friday,” explained the influential midfielder.
“The county final was really only over this time and fellas were talking about Munster.”
As luck would have it Thurles beat Drom & Inch to again win Tipp.
“It’s a rematch of 2010 and we are really to similar team both pretty young and I’d say neither have lost any players since two years ago,” outlined the LIT student.
The bookies make the Tipperary side the 1/2 favourites to advance to a November 11 semi-final with Cork’s Sarsfields.
“We are under no illusions - they have quality all over the field. But we aren’t afraid of them and are confidence in our own ability,” said O’Brien, whose side are available at 15/8.
“Anything other than a win and it will be failure for us,” said the Kilmallock captain.
“We have a proud record in the Munster club and have won it twice. We have only ever lost one game in Kilmallock and that was us in 2010 and we don’t want it to happen us again.”
Clearly that 2010 loss still hurts.
“We hit wides that we would never hit in Kilmallock - I’d say I hit three myself. This time of year and with the weather and everything, you have got to take your chances,” outlined O’Brien.
Another motivation is the chance to follow Na Piarsaigh as Munster club champions.
“There is no point lying - it was tough to watch that last year. Fair play to Na Piarsaigh for putting Limerick on the map but we want to be there,” said O’Brien.
“We are conscious of our proud record and we will go out all guns blazing,” said the Kilmallock captain.
Ahead of the game, Kilmallock have injury concerns over duo Philip O’Loughlin and Bryan O’Sullivan.
O’Loughlin missed the county final with a knee injury, while O’Sullivan broke a bone in his hand in that win over Adare and has been in a cast since but could yet line-out.
Kilmallock club secretary John O’Donnell confirmed their facilities had passed a Munster Council inspection to host the tie. Close to 5,000 were present two years ago and another great atmosphere is expected on Sunday.
Admission for U-16s is free, while for general entry is €15 and €10 for students and OAPs.
“To play at home is unbelievable. The O’Mahonys and Paudie O’Dywer are a puck of a ball away. There is a great buzz in the town and we are ready,” vowed O’Brien.