It has been an historic year for everyone involved with the Mooncoin hurling team.
Despite a league final defeat to Windgap, they were crowned Kilkenny junior champions after an impressive victory against Tullogher Rosbercon in last year’s decider.
They then advanced to the AIB Leinster junior final in December following an emphatic win against Wexford side Tara Rock’s in the semi-final.
That provincial decider takes place on Saturday at UPMC Nowlan Park when Willie Coogan’s men meet Offaly side Shamrocks with a throw-in time of 1pm.
Speaking to KCLR’s Scoreline ahead of that clash, Mooncoin manager Coogan looked forward to a monumental occasion for the Kilkenny club.
“It’s new territory for a lot of these boys and hopefully the experience that we have as a backroom team will help the players relax before such a big occasion,” Coogan said.
“It’s important that we play the game though and don’t get embroiled in playing the occasion because that’s not a position we can afford to find ourselves in.”
The Mooncoin manager admitted that he is slightly concerned about the impact of a long break with almost a month passed since their semi-final match.
“I would be worried that there will be a bit of rust.
“You’re balancing the Christmas period with high intensity training and maintaining fitness whilst relaxing. The acid test of whether we have got it right or not will be shown on Saturday but we feel that we are in a good place.”
He also contrasted the county final victory to that of this Saturday’s provincial decider.
“There is a lot less pressure on this game than there was for the county final.
“That was the main aim this year so we are looking at this as more of an opportunity than having a weight of expectation on us. So, there aren’t a lot of nerves for anyone involved.”
They notched up 5-16 on their way to an extra-time victory against Wexford’s Tara Rock’s in the semi-final and Coogan believes that there is room for improvement from that performance.
“There were elements of that performance that were top class.
“However, we still had to go to extra-time and get the job done there. It was great preparation for us because we saw that day that we can keep our heads under pressure in a really big game.”
The 2021 Kilkenny junior county championship winning manager gave huge credit to Shamrocks ahead of their much-anticipated tie on Saturday.
“They’re a very competitive side. They’re really balanced all over the pitch and they have no stars.
“They are a typical Offaly side in a way because they never give up and you can see in all of their results this season that they are a difficult team to beat.”