THE motivation for Kilmallock on Sunday is simple when they play Cork’s Sarsfields in the Munster club SHC semi-final.
They want to follow in the footsteps of Na Piarsaigh.
Twice in the last five years The Balbec have ventured into Munster and twice they fell at the first hurdle. On each occasion they watched on as Na Piarsaigh claimed provincial silverware the following season.
“Na Piarsaigh were by far the best team in Munster and we have beaten them so I can’t see any reason why we can’t win games in the Munster club,” said Kilmallock captain Graeme Mulcahy ahead of Sunday’s Munster club SHC semi-final against Cork champions Sarsfields.
The game will be televised live on TG4 at 2.00.
In 2010 and 2012, Kilmallock entered the Munster club SHC at the quarter-final stage but Mulcahy outlined that the carrot of a final for Sunday’s winner is crucial.
“It’s a massive motivation to try and get to a Munster final. We have lost twice in quarter-finals but knowing that we can reach a final would make a win on Sunday all the sweeter.”
Another motivation for Sunday is to win in the home ground of Fitzgerald Park.
“We feel that we didn’t do ourselves justice the two years that we lost to Thurles. Some lads know that those days weren’t their greatest performances and still we could have won the games. We know if we can perform like the county final we have a chance,” said the Kilmallock corner forward.
Winners of the Limerick SHC on 11 occasions, Kilmallock lifted the Munster crown in 1992 and 1994. Mulcahy is anxious that the current side create history.
“I don’t think there is any extra pressure playing at home. I think the experience of the two Thurles games will stand to us. It’s just another game really,” said Mulcahy.
He praised the work of manager Ger O’Loughlin in preparing the team.
“There is always celebration that has to be done but I do think that fellas know now that there is another prize on offer. In fairness to Ger (O’Louhglin) he has been through it all before and knows what is needed and his input has been essential. And, this is now an experienced bunch of players.”
Kilmallock have trained in Martinstown in recent times to ensure all in their ground is pristine but Mulcahy is aware that much has changed since they dethroned Na Piarsaigh.
“From the week after the county final all really changed. The ground has softened up and it will require maybe a different brand of hurling. It comes down to the nitty-gritty - everyone has to be assured on the ball, it won’t bounce straight up into your hand,” he explained.
Manager Ger O’Loughlin was a Munster club winner as a player with his native Clarecastle in 1997. On three attempts with Adare he didn’t succeed to return silverware and shares the determination of his players.
“To win a Munster club makes it a real good year for a club. We are going in determined on Sunday but we won’t be under-estimating them,” said O’Loughlin.
“Sars are a right good side and sources tell me they are really anxious to have a go off Munster this year,” said O’Loughlin.
Kilmallock will be without suspended wing back Liam Walsh, while Kieran Kenneally is struggling with an ankle injury. Kilmallock are 5/4 outsiders against Sarsfields 8/11.
“I think to be fair to the lads since the start the goal was to try and get out of Limerick and then to have a great go off the Munster championship,” he outlined.
“They are very focused and have trained really well for the last couple of weeks. One of the goals was Munster and they have applied themselves very well for that.”
The carrot on Sunday is a November 23 Munster final against Thurles or Cratloe.
“Playing at home has to be a bonus but when all be said and done we know that everything has to be put into action on Sunday,” said the manager.
Kilmallock are powered by inter-county trio Gavin O’Mahony, Paudie O’Brien and Mulcahy as well as Eoin Ryan, Bryan O’Sullivan and the O’Loughlin brothers.
Sars can call upon current and former Cork inter-county men Cian McCarthy, Conor O’Sullivan, Daniel Kearney and Kieran Murphy. They also have Wexford duo Eanna Martin and Eoin Quigley.