Friday 20 September 2019

The Nire in no mood to let momentum die

Ready for battle: The Nire goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy and his team-mates prepare for Hugh Bourke of Adare to take a free last Sunday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ready for battle: The Nire goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy and his team-mates prepare for Hugh Bourke of Adare to take a free last Sunday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

For the fourth weekend in a row the footballers of The Nire in Waterford will suit up for battle.

Their season has had a stop-start feel to it but now that it's up and running, those around Ballymacarbry are happy to make hay. After all, a Munster Club SFC semi-final is not to be sniffed at.

Over the past three weekends, they toppled Ballinacourty by two points in a county semi-final. Seven days later they were crowned county champions for the ninth time, 25 years after claiming their inaugural senior football title. However, there was little time to celebrate as they put Limerick champions Adare to the sword last weekend. And tomorrow, they make the short hop to Dungarvan to face Clare champions St Joseph's Miltown.

"It's our fourth weekend in a row to play," explains selector Tom Guiry, who also acts as club secretary. "The lads are good. We lost Micheál O'Gorman against Ballinacourty in our own semi-final and he won't be back for Sunday. But after that it's just bumps and bruises."

It has come thick and fast because the football championship in the county was effectively put on hold for a period. Abbeyside reached the county hurling final meaning the big ball took a back seat in the Déise.

"We were paired against Ballinacourty in the semi-finals and Ballinacourty's sister club is Abbeyside and they got into the hurling final so the football knocked on a bit later so that's how we ended up playing week on week. In fairness to the Abbeyside Ballinacourty club, that's the way it has to be."

Such delays are just of fact of life in Waterford. The Nire have had similar issues down through the years as they share a large portion of their players with sister club Fourmilewater. Along with that, they have two on the county hurling panel and four on the football squad, meaning getting everyone at training is a rarity until late in the season.

"We lost out to Roanmore in the quarter-final of the hurling and went straight on to football then. But up to that it was a juggling act, that's what you're dealing with. The other big problem is that we have two guys on the hurling team in Jamie Barron and Conor Gleeson and we have another four on the football panel - Thomas O'Gorman, Dylan Guiry, James McGrath and Shane Ryan - so that's six of the panel early on that's involved with the county that we just won't have."

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The way is clear now and they had built up a head of steam. They were too good for Adare last time out and could afford to run the bench to try and save their legs.

"The first thing about the Munster club you don't know fully what to expect when you are playing. You are trying to find out in that week or two lead-up what way they play and what they do. We were surprised, we held possession very well and kicked some good scores and the goal that Tom Barron got before half-time gave us a big cushion going into the second half and we just matched them and got through it.

"We were able to put on six subs to try and rest people. We were able to take off the older players not to be playing out the full 60 again. You have to try and mind them and get fellas recovered and get them back to match pace again next Sunday."

The Guiry clan are heavily involved. Tom's brother Dick is manager and they have a son each, Darren and Tholom, on the squad as well as two nephews, Dylan and Craig.

And Tom knows that they have been presented with a huge chance to reach a fourth Munster Club SFC final.

"Without doubt, it's a massive opportunity. We avoided Cork and Kerry in the early rounds. And Limerick, Clare and Waterford (teams) are probably on a par with one another. Tipperary probably have overtaken them the last few years and gone a step ahead. Now the Clare county team are in a good place overall but look we have a reasonable chance, especially having them down in Dungarvan. But at the same time you don't take anything for granted.

"From our point of view, we were in the Munster final in 2014 and we played Austin Stacks and it's game we could have won nearly and we ran them close on the day. Two years later in '16 Dr Crokes ran riot on us, we didn't get to the pace of it at all and were beaten after 20 minutes you may say.

"But our ambition would be to try and get back into a Munster final again and see what can happen."

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