Adare captain Paul Keane bids to follow in the footsteps of his house-mate Donnacha Sheehan and captain Adare to county glory this Sunday.
AFTER the heydays of their three-in-a-row Adare found themselves slipping outside of the elite of Limerick club hurling.
All-conquering manager Ger O’Loughlin departed to assume the reigns of power in Clare, others like the Foley brothers, Mark, Jacko and Brian, hung up their hurleys and more were forced to emigrate.
From the outset of 2012 it was a signal of intent to entice O’Loughlin back. During the last decade the likes of Patsy Hall, Joe Hannon and others had ensured the underage system wasn’t ignored when the senior team was thriving.
The starlets were ready for the step-up to the senior ranks and there was no-one better to mould a new team that O’Loughlin.
“It was brilliant to get him back. Everyone knows about the three-in-a-row and what Ger did. We know what he brings to the table. We knew that he would get everyone together and training right and focused,” explained Adare captain Paul Keane.
Keane is now one of the elder statesmen of the set-up. Some are chasing a sixth title on Sunday, but Keane missed out in 2007.
“I didn’t expect it to come through this quickly,” he said of the youngsters like David Dillon, Jeff Lohan, Jody Hannon, PJ Hall and others.
“At the start of the year we had to blood four or five fellas and they have done very very well,” he said.
He explained: “we seemed to have lost a lot of fellas between the ages of 20-30. We have Wayne Mac and Ross Kennedy and thats it really. The rest are a lot younger or older”.
“Thankfully there has been no problem - we have all gelled well. It probably was the reason that we did struggle at the start because of all the new faces and they had to find their feet,” he outlined.
Sunday will also be new to the young brigade.
“We have five or six that will be starting their first county final, even John Fitzgibbon and Willie Griffin have been playing a few years but haven’t played in a final so its all new,” outlined Keane.
“Since the Patrickswell game things have been driven on in training and its definitely the younger lads that are driving us on. They have accepted that it’s their team rather than being a bit of another team.”
Also new will be the fact that Adare are the underdogs.
“We have nothing to loose really going into it and it does take off some of the pressure. We just hope to take the shackles off and play to our best. It’s three years since we have been there so we are happy enough to be back. Obviously during the year this didn’t look like happening so we are happy to be here. Kilmallock will obviously be favourites but we are here and will make a good go at it,” he stressed.
“They deserve their favourites tag - it’s understandable when Kilmallock have beaten the reigning champions and beaten them well,” said Keane.