GRAHAM O’Connell is in his fifth year in the red of Monaleen after work brought him to Limerick from his native Tralee.
O’Connell lost a 2010 Kerry SFC final with home club Austin Stacks and in 2013 lost a Limerick SFC final with Monaleen.
The Ballyneety based Garda doesn’t want a final appearance to be a highlight and has his sights set on lifting the Fr Casey Cup along with joint-captain Donal O’Sullivan.
“I transferred up in 2012 and started playing when Monaleen were going for a three-in-a-row,” recalls O’Connell, before pausing to joke of his negative impact!
But the last few years have seen Monaleen in transition mode, with Saturday the litmus test as to how successful the transformation has been.
“When I came there were young fellas at U-16 and minor level and then have come through to be leaders in the team – you need the youth and we have it coming through and there is a good blend with experience.”
He explains: “We were disappointed to lose to Drom in the semi final last year and it was a tough Christmas and then we met in early January and decided that this year we had to go one further and get to the final - we have done that and ticked all the boxes. This year we have tweaked the system that the lads put in place for us and I think it will be that system of play that will get us over the line on Saturday. The work-rate is massive and some of the training we have done I’d say count set-ups wouldn’t do as tough. It’s all based around work-rate and whoever gets the scores doesn’t matter as long as we get over the line”.
The 28-year-old, Ger Collins and Brian Donovan are the scoring threats in the Monaleen attack but O’Connell isn’t looking for the limelight just a winners medal.
“For Monaleen it's been four years - to go from a double winning team to four years means there is a huge hunger and hopefully that will be fulfilled the weekend,” explained the forward.
“Personally since I came to Limerick I wanted to win this championship – every Gaelic footballer is the same and thats what you juggle your life with family and work. To win it would mean everything to me – I’d love to win one.”
In his fifth season playing in the Limerick SFC, this year’s semi final was O’Connell first club game in the Gaelic Grounds.
“We are delighted to play in the Gaelic Grounds - its one of the best fields in the country and when you play there you are up for it straight away when you walk into the stadium.”