As the anticipation builds for this weekend’s AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Club Championship Final, O’Loughlin Gaels are drawing on the wealth of experience gained from their previous encounters at Croke Park.
Mark Bergin, a key player for the Leinster champions, highlighted the significance of their familiarity with the iconic venue, emphasizing how it could play a crucial role in their upcoming clash against St Thomas’s of Galway, which is live this Sunday on KCLR with thanks to Kilkenny Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic.
Bergin spoke candidly about the advantage of having players on the team who consider Croke Park a second home. The likes of Hugh Lawler, Mikey Butler, Paddy Deegan, and Connor Heary have all graced the hallowed grounds, and their accumulated experience is viewed as a valuable asset.
“I think we’re fortunate enough. We have Hugh Lawler, we have Mikey Butler, we’ve Paddy Deegan, we’ve Connor Heary. These lads have played in Croke Park. It’s like their second home, to be honest,” Bergin remarked.
Acknowledging the importance of passing on this experience to the younger players, Bergin highlighted the role of the county boys in mentoring and preparing their teammates for the unique atmosphere of Croke Park. He noted, “The county boys do speak with the younger lads, telling them what exactly to expect. And that was very important as well in the Leinster Club final.”
Reflecting on the historical significance of Croke Park, Bergin spoke about the sense of awe and pride associated with playing on this revered turf since childhood. “It’s a place since you’re a young fella. That’s all you want to do. You want to play in Croke Park. You want to be given that opportunity. So it does count,” he added.
The upcoming final against St Thomas’s of Galway is not just a game; it’s an opportunity for O’Loughlin Gaels to etch their names in the annals of history. The players are not taking this lightly, and the seasoned campaigners are instilling a sense of reverence for the occasion among their teammates.
For those eager to delve deeper into the intricacies of the match, the Kilkenny Hurling Podcast, hosted by Robbie and Eddie, will be airing a special preview show this Friday night from 7-9.
The podcast promises insights from notable figures, including Mick Nolan, the last manager to guide O’Loughlin Gaels to an All-Ireland final, and Kevin McDonald, who faced O’Loughlin Gaels in the first round of the Leinster championship as part of Mount Leinster Rangers and Carlow.
The panel and management team members will also share their thoughts, adding an extra layer of excitement for supporters ahead of the highly anticipated showdown.
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