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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Will it be three-in-a-row for Calry/St Joseph's hurlers?

Published 01/10/2013 | 05:40

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Defending Champions, Calry/St Joseph's, (above) will be going for three-in-a-row senior hurling titles on Saturday, while the Coolera/Strandhill team (below) will be bidding to win a first county senior hurling title.

Calry/St Joseph's will be going for three-in-a-row when they meet Coolera/Strandhill in the final of the County Senior Hurling Championship at Markievicz Park on Saturday (4pm)

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Calry/St Joseph's will be going for three-in-a-row when they meet Coolera/Strandhill in the final of the County Senior Hurling Championship at Markievicz Park on Saturday (4pm)

It's a repeat of last year's decider and another closely contested encounter is on the cards.

The defending Champions will start as favourites but Coolera are capable of upsetting the odds if they hit their best form on the day.

Coolera will benefit from a tough semi-final when they had to dig deep to overcome Western Gaels by a three point margin.

Calry, on the other hand, had things very much their own way against Naomh Eoin the last day.

They will face a much tougher examination on this occasion and will need to hit the ground running.

The respective managers, Calry's Stephen Whelan, who shares the role with Henry Cox, and Coolera's Tom Brenan, are anticipating an exciting contest.

"Our form has been a bit mixed during the year but we've managed to dig out results and get to the final," says the Coolera boss.

They've lost Larry Cadden and Conor O'Mahoney from the 2012 panel and are likely to be without injury victims, Conor Gillen and Donal Tobin, for the final.

On the plus side, Ciaran Brennan, is back in the panel and has had a great year.

"We have a lot of lads away at College so it's been difficult in terms of collective training," says Tom.

"Having said that, the players couldn't be faulted for their effort or commitment.

"They are all very talented hurlers and it's just a question of trying to get the best out of them.

"We came through a tough semi-final and we would need to find a bit of improvement to have any chance against Calry"

The manager feels the fact that his side are the underdogs will suit them.

"There's no pressure on us - we have nothing to lose," he maintains. "We'll go out and do our very best. We'll throw the kitchen sink at them"

Coolera have never won the senior championship but it surely can't be too long before they make the breakthrough.

"Our day will come - that's for sure. But will it be this year?. I don't know but it won't be for lack of effort," says Tom.

Calry joint manager, Stephen Whelan, accepts that most observers would regard his side as favourites.

But he insists that Calry won't be in any way complacent.

"We would have great regard for Coolera," he says.

"We've never had it easy against them.

"They are a fine team and we wouldn't be taking anything for granted.

"Other people might say we are favourites but we wouldn't think of it in those terms at all."

Among the Calry players absent through emigration this season are Shane Martyn, Michael Gilmartin, Gearoid Kelly, Cian Hackett, Tommy Kelly and Sean Caheny.

A number of promising youngsters stepped up to the plate during the course of the season.

Billy McArdle got 1-3 in the semi-final win over Naomh Eoin while Noel Tracey, Niall McDermott and David Cox have also shown up well.

Keith Raymond is the class act but there's no notion that Calry are a one-man team.

"It takes a huge effort to win one county final - never mind going for three in a row.

"But we've worked hard over the last number of years and we're in good shape going into the final.

"You can't ask for more than that", says Stephen

Both teams showed impressive form during the course of the Championship and now it's all down to sixty minutes of hurling in Saturday's decider.

Coolera/Strandhill will be driven by the prospect of making history by taking the coveted title for the first time ever.

And they are bound to give it all they have in pursuit of the big breakthrough.

However, Calry have been down this road before and have a definite edge in terms of big match experience.

With two successive Sligo titles in the bag and the experience of playing regularly in the Connacht Championship, they are well equipped for the big occasion.

It promises to be a close and tense affair but Calry would appear to have more aces in their pack.

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