It’s a local derby this weekend as Kilkenny county champions Ballyhale Shamrocks take on Mount Leinster Rangers in the AIB Leinster Senior Hurling Quarter Final.
The Carlow side will host Shamrocks in Netwatch Dr. Cullen Park and their manager Conor Phelan is hoping that this might give them an edge over their opponents.
“I supposed we played all our matches this year in Dr. Cullen Park, so the guys are well used to it. So Hopefully that will be some advantage to us.”
“Sometimes when you travel away from home, you play in a different venue you get a positive reaction. So it is hard to know how much of an advantage it will be.”
There may be a slight concern as Mount Leinster has not played a competitive game since their county final win over St. Mullins in mid-September. Attention had to be switched to football as is the nature of dual clubs. Mount Leinster Rangers ended up losing at the semi-final stage to Eire Og in the Senior Football Championship, however, Phelan hopes that experience stands to them;
“If you win it is a good thing, if you lose you would question it. I think it is good, we finished two months ago in regards to the hurling, so it would have been a long time for the lads. It was good to have the break and concentrate on the football.”
“We are lucky enough we have a very strong football team and are competitive in the senior grade in Carlow. It is good to have that competitiveness, we are all competitors. Once we can be competitive in both codes, it is a good sign of the club.”
“We have a good relationship with the management on the football side we link in very regularly with the players and try not to over burden them. Just trying to get that balance.”
Shamrocks recently bested a spirited O’Loughlins to once again claim the Kilkenny Senior Championship for the fourth time in a row. Phelan is under no illusions to the calibre of players his Carlow side will face this Saturday, saying;
“This is a different opposition altogether. They won the last two club All Irelands and the last four Kilkenny championships in a row. They are one of the best club hurling teams of the last decade.”
“The calibre of players they have, it is a challenge for us. To show what Carlow is capable of, to see can we be competitive and try to stay with them. We will see where that will take us.”
“They are highly driven. The club is really well organised, we have a good set up in regards gym and astroturf and pitch. It is a really progressive club. I am involved three years and it is a nice role for me as management as the players take ownership and we just facilitate.”
We’ll have live coverage of that game from 2pm this Saturday with thanks to Gerry Comerford Drilling and Teach Dolmain Carlow.