Delaney: Following in footsteps of Camross giants gives us strength
Tomorrow, Camross launch themselves back into another Leinster club SHC campaign.
Laois champions for the 25th time after seeing off Clough Ballacolla, they head into provincial competition knowing that competing, and winning, at this level is in their blood.
Camross are the only side from Laois to win in Leinster. In fact, they've done it twice with the maiden win in 1976 repeated in 1996. And that's something manager Arien Delaney will draw on in the build up to tomorrow's clash with Carlow champions Mount Leinster Rangers.
"It's massive for us to have people around the club who have been there and done it and knows what it takes to win," he said.
"We'll try and pick up on their experience as much as we can. We're immensely proud of that and it's great inspiration for our young players. They can aspire to that, that if our fathers and uncles and grandfathers can do that then we can aim high too. As a group, we'd like to give it a good go."
They've a rich history and being nestled in hurling heartland between Offaly, Tipperary and Kilkenny, the small ball game has always been number one in Camross and has produced the likes of the wonderfully talented Zane Keenan - who will play tomorrow - in recent times.
"Down here, the first thing you are given is a nappy, the second is a hurl," Delaney laughs.
So Camross will carry no fear as they wade into provincial warfare. Delaney points to the recent roll of honour in Leinster as an example of how every team in the province has a fighting chance. The last five runnings of the competition has produced winners from five different counties. That list includes tomorrow's opponents Mount Leinster Rangers who embarked on a stunning run all the way to St Patrick's Day in 2013-14.
"It's not only the teams from Kilkenny and Wexford that win this," Delaney stated. "Teams from other counties have shown they are well able to compete at this level so it's a great competition.
"Mount Leinster are a very strong team. I saw them in the semi-final and final and they have some great hurlers, lads like Denis Murphy, David Phelan, the Coadys and there are others as well.
"I think there's still nine of the team that won the Leinster final available to them and a lot of them started for Carlow this year and they went on to win the Christy Ring Cup. So look, it's a challenge for us but we're really looking forward to it now."
It's been an eventful year for Delaney. After they were beaten in a replay of last year's Laois semi-final, he stepped down as manager. Eventually he was coaxed back into the fold and he helped the club to another title.
However, while at training one night a few weeks ago, he returned to see that around €12,000 worth of equipment had been stolen from his farm.
And there was another blow around the corner when Dwane Palmer suffered a broken leg during a challenge game against St Thomas' last week.
"It's a massive loss to us. He's a huge player but he's been around training since and he's great to have around the place.
"And I've always said this year that the strength of this team has been the squad and now this is someone else's chance.
"I think we have used 19 or 20 players in almost every game this year and that has helped pull us through, so we'll be looking at giving someone else a go from the start."