MUIRIS Gavin was the on-field leader in each of the last four Limerick SFC titles won by Monaleen.
For the past two seasons the former Limerick football captain has swapped his jersey for the bainesteoir bib. On Saturday he hopes a period of rebuilding will see a new-look Monaleen annex the Fr Casey Cup.
“Over the last three or four years there has been a transition in the club. There was a team there that backboned the club for most of the last decade and over the four county titles that we won there was maybe nine/ten/eleven lads on all four teams and that has slowly but surely, with lads retiring, changed to the point that there are only really one or two left from the 2002 team,” outlined Gavin.
Jason O’Brien, Finbarr Nash and Paul Kinnerk are the only Monaleen panel members with four winners’ medals.
”We have a lot of new players in the last two or three years and it takes time to make the transition and we knew we would have a few difficult years but I think we are coming good again,” outlined Gavin.
Winners in 2011 Monaleen, last appeared in the final in 2013 – losing to Drom-Broadford. Last year they reached the semi final – losing to Drom-Broadford.
”There is a maturity this year but we did a lot last year and the lads put in a huge effort but on the day against Dromcollogher-Broadford they were better than us and it showed us that we still had a bit of ground to make up on the top two or three teams. The idea at the start of the year was to try and bridge the gap to the top teams and get ourselves back up there but the ultimate test is ahead,” outlined the manager.
”The target every year is to try and get to the county final and win it and that was our goal at the start of the year and we are here now and delighted with how it has gone so far but now that we are here we want to make sure we win it. There is a big difference between winning and losing a final and we want to kick on and get the win.”
The bookies have Monaleen as slight favourites but Gavin insists that Drom-Broadford are a big obstacle.
”At the start of every year in the Limerick football championship and my view is that if we are there when Dromcollogher-Broadford are not that there is a very good chance we can win it. They have proven that and it’s up to other teams if they want to win it, to get the better of them. We tried twice last year and we weren’t good enough and we have another chance now and it’s up to us to actually go out and beat them,” said Gavin.
Monaleen arrive in the final unbeaten, but opponents Drom-Broadford only advanced from the group on the final day after losing two round robin games.
“I would say until Dromcollogher-Broadford are knocked out I expected to see them. We had a similar situation ourselves in 2010 when we got out of the group on four points and got into a quarter final and I know from ourselves that time, that the minute we got into a quarter final we fully expected to win it and I’ve no doubt that in the Dromcollogher-Broadford dressing room they are feeling something similar,” said Gavin.
”We are where we want to be and where we expect we should be but ultimately there is a huge difference between winning and losing as we found out in 2013 - we had never lost a county final before that in the club’s history hurling or football. There is no comparison and we don’t want to be in a losing dressing room and the onus is on us to ensure we are not.”