Tuesday 27 September 2016

Gleeson ready to go again in 2017 if Ryan wants him to continue

Published 06/09/2016 | 02:30

Tipperary hurlers Darren Gleeson, left, and Noel McGrath sit inside a Garda car in front of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tipperary hurlers Darren Gleeson, left, and Noel McGrath sit inside a Garda car in front of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Darren Gleeson has signalled his intention to remain on as a Tipperary inter-county hurler - provided manager Mick Ryan wants him.

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The veteran goalkeeper made two hugely important saves, from Colin Fennelly and Kevin Kelly, in either half, while the length and placement of his puck-outs had Kilkenny defenders turning backwards so often.

Gleeson is 35 but has just completed his third full season after taking over from Brendan Cummins, whose slipstream he had been in for so long.

He concedes that maintaining fitness will be a priority and a challenge.

"Mick has to pick a panel in November and I've never been the smallest in November! If he wants me to do it, I have to be smaller than I usually am," he said.

"Mick could have easily gone with a young goalie and put his own stamp on it but he trusted me and I'm delighted he gave me the honour for doing that."

Gleeson admitted he has learned from some chastening experiences against Kilkenny, notably the free at the end of extra-time in the 2014 league final in Thurles that he sent over the sideline, giving Richie Hogan and TJ Reid a chance to concoct the winning score.

"I had my moments against Kilkenny as well - that free in the league final steeled me," he said. "I wanted to come back and prove myself and win on the big stage."

"We're a long time building for this. A lot of hurt was shown out on that field. Lads have been building it up for the guts of two years. We didn't let it out when we should have had last year but we redeemed ourselves."

Gleeson paid tribute to the various mentors in the background who have helped his career and played their part in getting it right for Tipperary, including Galway manager Micheál Donoghue, who was involved with the Premier county last year.

"Micheál last year did great work with us as well, set a tone with the team," he said. "I can't go without mentioning Brian Horgan, our 'maor foirne' on the line but also our goalkeeping coach.

"There's a lot of people but the final man is Eamon O'Shea. A fantastic man. We carried him with us and Mick carried a bit of him as well along with his own stamp, and we know who was with us."

Gleeson believes he is the first man from his club, Portroe, to win an All-Ireland senior medal and knows their members will share in his joy.

"We've unbelievable people in Port'," he said. "I met John Sheedy (brother of Liam) after the match, a selector with the minors. That would mean as much to John as it would to me."

Irish Independent

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