Clean bill of health for Kiladangan’s belated Munster challenge
GAA: AIB Munster Club Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final Preview
By Shane Brophy
KILADANGAN v CLONLARA
FBD Semple Stadium
Sunday, 19th November
Throw-in @ 2.00pm (E.T.)
Referee: Ciaran O’Regan (Cork)
After being unable to test themselves against the best of Munster as county champions in 2020, Kiladangan are keen to make up for that missed opportunity when they take on Clare champions Clonlara in the Munster Club Senior Hurling semi-final on Sunday.
There is always the question of motivation for county champions after achieving their target for the season which for many is a county title but for Kiladangan, the opportunity to represent Tipperary is a challenge they are eagerly looking forward to.
“I don’t know if it is a motivation but most it is the next challenge,” said Kiladangan manager John O’Meara of the teams mentality as the resume their campaign on Sunday.
“Obviously, they are now representing Tipperary as well which is a badge of honour that they are carrying. They are coming up against the best team in Clare this year and the challenge that is going to present.”
Kiladangan do have pedigree outside the county going back to 2004-2005 when they were the first winners of the Munster & All-Ireland Intermediate title, a success that proved to the springboard for their subsequent senior progression and success.
“Obviously, that is a very famous team within the club itself,” O’Meara added.
“And certainly, these lads would have been young at the time and would have good memories of that time.
“But these lads are looking to make their own mark and hope that next Sunday is another step on that journey.”
The prize is massive for both Kiladangan and Clonlara on Sunday, a place in Munster final against either Ballygunner or Na Piarsaigh who meet in the other semi-final later in the afternoon.
O’Meara is familiar with the new Clare champions as the Sixmilebridge native who won county titles in 2013, 15 & 17, was some of the reason why Clonlara went fifteen years between the first and second titles.
“Clonlara are an excellent team,” he says.
“They have been knocking on the door in Clare over the last ten or twelve years. There has been a lot of dominant teams in Clare in that time, but they just didn’t manage to get over the line for various reasons, but they managed to get over the line this year.
“They were by far the best team in Clare this year.”
A team containing Clare star John Conlon and the Galvin brothers, Colm & Ian, won’t lack for experience but they also have plenty of players that will have worn the saffron and blue of the Banner at inter-county level, including Conor Burke, Colm O’Meara, Aidan Moriarty, and Dylan & Jathan McMahon so playing in Semple Stadium won’t be a massive challenge for them.
“There is a huge amount of experience in that Clonlara team,” said the Kiladangan boss.
“The majority of that team would also have played minor, under 21 and senior with Clare so Thurles won’t hold any fears for them as the majority would have played there already but at this level while home advantage is great, it won’t have a massive impact on the game to be honest.
“It is really about how both teams come out of their respective county championships and how they take on and tackle this new competition.
“From how our guys have trained, they cannot wait for Sunday at two o’clock.”
On the three occasions John O’Meara guided his native Sixmilebridge into Munster, they reached a final in 2013, losing to Na Pairsaigh, before falling narrowly to the same opposition in a 2015 quarter final, and then a one-point semi-final loss to Ballygunner in 2017, so he is perfectly placed to know the mentality needed to refocus from a county championship success.
“My own experience of it is there is definitely an element of pressure that is off the team because you have the county won,” he said.
“And you’ll often see teams hurling and expressing themselves a lot more than they would in their own county championship.
“At the start of every year the goal of every club team is to win their own county. And when you have that done then there is another competition to go for, and we have seen over the years, a lot of what happens in relation to Munster club is momentum and teams come in and carry that momentum through the competition.”
The Kiladangan manager added that the comments of captain Alan Flynn in the aftermath of the county final win in terms of the opportunities for players at inter-county level under Liam Cahill hasn’t been referenced at training with all their focus being on Clonlara where they are reporting a clean bill of health following the county final win three weeks ago.