Adare bid for a first ever Limerick SFC title on Sunday
THIS week two years ago Adare lost to Rathkeale and were relegated from the senior football championship.
This week last year Adare beat St Senans and were promoted back to the senior football championship.
This week Adare face Newcastle West in just the club’s third ever Limerick SFC final appearance.
Adare were 20/1 outsiders for the Fr Casey Cup at the beginning of the championship last April.
Manager Harry Gleeson is in his second season at the helm.
”I am someone who believes that you work hard and dream big and take your chances after that,” said Gleeson of Adare’s surprise fun to the final.
”I felt we had a really good side after last year and I think to start off this season with limited ambition would have been wrong and not do justice to this group of players. My view would be to aim for the ultimate and we will get as far as we can,” outlined Gleeson.
“I accept that I am a very lucky guy to be involved with this team for the last two years - they need little enough motivation. The are really really good footballers, blessed with great pace and some of them are showing a level of maturity way beyond their years,” he said.
Gleeson arrives in the final with a starting team that includes 10 players who won an Premier U-21 championship title in December 2015.
“The question is; is it inexperience or youth - I think as a team, group and squad they work for eachother and when you have people who are prepared to put in that effort for eachother and respect eachother a lot of other little bits tend to fall into place,” said the manager.
Adare drew with Fr Caseys and then beat Na Piarsaigh in the opening games of this championship, but then were hit by a 1-18 to 3-5 loss to Dromcollogher-Broadford in round three.
“We got some lesson and you either win or you learn - we all got a big lesson. We hugely respect Drom for all that they have done and achieved,” recalled Gleeson of the loss in Knockaderry.
But Adare then drew with champions Monaleen and beat Rathkeale to progress – albeit they needed Na Piarsaigh to beat Fr Caseys to help them advance.
”I felt the team would develop stronger as the year with players coming back from Leaving Cert and guys who were in the states and things like that. You always look to develop a team for the decade ahead and sometimes you need the rub of the green. The results in the final round of games did fall our way - it could have been a season where we weren’t battling relegation but we didn’t get through to the knockout stage. It is a very very fine line and we needed that bit of luck,” said Gleeson.
”After getting that bit of luck I felt we could improve - the lads had learned in fairness to Joe Redington and Jerome Stack and the coaching and the guys are eager to learn.”
He added: “Momentum can do a lot for you”.
The key moment for Adare came ahead of the replay with Ballylanders in the quarter final.
“We had a lot of possession the first day and sometimes things just go wrong and you can’t plan for that. At the end of the day the lads themselves realised how close they came to going out and you don’t need to spend hours pontificating with the lads to get that point across. They all set out their stall to make sure it didn’t happen again in the replay,” said the manager.
Credit Adare they matched and improved on that performance to dispatch club kingpins Drom-Broadford in the semi final.
“We have to try and deliver something similar again if we are going to have any chance of beating Newcastle West,” said Gleeson.
“They will be bigger, more physical and lot of them good footballers but it’s another step on the journey and we are going to do our best and turn up to try and win but we live in the real world and we realise that step against Newcastle West will be very difficult.”
The Adare manager adds: “We are in bonus territory.”
Many may feel Adare are in bonus territory since they reached the Limerick SFC quarter final but this is a youthful side many of whom have won county football championship silverware in each of the last three years between intermediate, U-21 and minor success.