THIS Saturday sees Bruff take on Croom in the inaugural Premier IHC Championship final in Kilmallock at 3.45.
When the sides met earlier in the campaign, Bruff were comfortable 4-14 to 1-13 winners. However, this will count for little as both sides go in search of the title.
Despite both finalists gaining promotion, Croom coach Mike Galligan insists that takes nothing from the decider.
“Definitely not,” he said, when asked, “No a county final is a county final, there is silverware to be won.”
Croom got past Blackrock in the replayed semi-final and Galligan was relieved to come away with the victory.
“We knew coming in it would be tough,” he said. “Blackrock are a great team,” he added, outside the victorious dressing room last Saturday.
Galligan also said that there was nothing between the sides and it could just as easily been Blackrock playing in the final this Saturday in Fitzgerald Park, Kilmallock.
“There was only a puck of a ball between the two teams at the end of the day.”
Croom finished the round robin stage in fourth place. Despite this they beat fellow semi-finalists Blackrock and Garryspillane in the group phase and got off to a great start, winning their first three games.
Since then they were a bit hit and miss, losing to Dromin-Athlacca and Bruree.
However, the Maigue-siders impressed in their two semi-finals with Blackrock as they are a physically strong team. Veteran’s Mark O’Riordan, Stephen Lucey and Peter Lawlor are leaders of this side.
Young players such as Mark Reidy and Conor Laffin are key members of their forward line.
Bruff finished the group stage in second place, only behind Blackrock on head-to-head.
They are the top scorers of the competition averaging over 21 and a half points per game.
A lot of this high scoring is thanks to the free-taking of Shane Bulfin who hit 13 points last time out. Bruff are captained by wing back former Limerick footballer Bobby O’Brien. Another former county footballer John Cooke is one of the more experienced members of the team as well as Paddy O’Leary.
Current Limerick midfielder Paul Browne keeps control of the game in the middle of the park. His distribution will be key for Bruff on Saturday.
Bruff have the advantage when it comes to strength in depth. Former Offaly player Mick O’Hara has come on in most matches and the likes of Cathal Bulfin and Jason Hayes have featured a lot for Bruff but may not start the final.
Like Croom coach Mike Galligan, Bruff manager Gary Kirby insists that they are up for the final despite sealing promotion with the semi-final win.
“No, we want to win the title now that we’re there. We got our first target (promotion) that we wanted to get at the start of the year,” he said.
“We played the true hurling we knew we can play, we took some great scores,” he said, after the Garryspillane win.
They will need to take their scores against a good Croom side who have the tightest defence in the competition conceding just 15 points per game.