Friday 19 January 2018

Pub culture banished as Ballyea set sights on glory

Kelly "After that Monday night, I don’t think we had anyone in the pub on the Tuesday which was a shock." Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

There has hardly been time to catch a breath for those around Ballyea but, ahead of tomorrow's Munster club SHC final against Cork's Glen Rovers, one moment sticks out in Tony Kelly's mind.

On the Monday after they won their first Clare SHC title, the Clonlara team they had beaten in the final joined them in the celebrations.

Kelly's Clare team mate John Conlon urged them to give Munster all their focus.

"They came up to us on the Monday," Kelly recalled. "John was just saying when they won in 2008, it was their first one in years. And they made the mistake of celebrating and being in the pub Wednesday and Thursday, and then playing on the Sunday. He said that was one of the biggest regrets he had because he said they haven't won a county final since, and haven't had a proper crack at a Munster club campaign.

"To be fair to our lads, after that Monday night, I don't think we had anyone in the pub on the Tuesday which was a shock. We have a lot of county lads as well so they understand the whole concept, the whole importance of it as compared to the club lads who mightn't be used to a big win like that.

"We were back on the field on Wednesday night. There was a focus to do ourselves justice."

They more than did justice to themselves when they turned over Thurles Sarsfields after coming back from the dead to force extra-time.

"We had the county final the week beforehand so we didn't think about the Thurles Sarsfields game properly until the Wednesday or Thursday.

"Since then, it's been a shock to be in a Munster final. We just won our first county senior title going back two weeks ago and now we're in a Munster final. It's unknown territory for a lot of us.

"There is a buzz in the camp, make hay while the sun shines trying to win it because we might never again win a county final or get to a Munster final.

"You might but you mightn't - you can't really take the chance."

Kelly has won all five Munster finals he has played in in his career but expects that record to be put under pressure tomorrow.

"I've only seen them play once this year, that was the county final. I just happened to watch it on TG4. Other than that I haven't seen them play."

"I think from talking to people, talking to lads I know in (Patricskwell), they were saying they're similar enough to ourselves.

"They were down in a few games and came back and won them late so we're under no illusions about the kind of battle we're facing.

"We're going into more of a battle than we went into against Thurles. Even watching them in the county final, they have a never-say-die attitude and they're winning tight games.

"Similar to ourselves, the more tight games you win the more confident you get and I think the Munster club final will come down to last five or 10 minutes."

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