Kilkenny champions Shamrocks make the pilgrimage to Croke Park to take on Ballygunnar of Waterford for the chance to claim their third title in a row
I caught up with manager James O’Connor yesterday and the way he foresees it, it looks like we will be in for some game.”
“This is where every club player wants to be, and we’ve trained for this all year, I suppose you could say two years now.”
“To get back into Croke Park on the biggest day of the year, it’s a huge privilege. All the lads are really up for it and can’t wait for Saturday.”
Play your own game
We spoke to James before the county final and the Leinster final and he mentioned the importance of playing the match on its own merits and not the occasion. We needed to know if that was something that he will be saying to your players once more;
” We have our own plans and we have our own method of playing and you know that never changes with us.
“If it’s a first round of the championship or if it’s an All Ireland final, we’ll play the game the way we want to play it. “
Character and Standards
The team’s character is there for all to see, somehow always finding a way to win becoming a hallmark of the team. The conclusion to the St Thomas’ game was absolutely incredible of course with TJ Reid winning it with the last puck of the ball. Just reflecting on that game, we wanted to know what was the in-house reaction to the result, was it just pure relief or can you enjoy a win like that? Speaking to Scoreline, James shone a light on the atmosphere in the dressing room after;
“That was probably one of the toughest games and probably the most physical game that I’ve encountered in my two-year reign.
“It was a game. We picked up a couple of injuries as well. It took a lot out of the team”.
“But the one thing I can say is even after coming in afterward and sitting in the dressing room, you know guys were disappointed. “
“With our own performance, and even though we won, you know I kind of had an atmosphere nearly that we lost. “
Relive that wonderfull @_tjreid moment ahead of the @AIB_GAA Club All Ireland Final, with some local commentary from the best.
The All Ireland semi-final was a similar game to that of St Rynagh’s in the Leinster semi-final in terms of how it ended. Shamrocks then put in one of their best performances to win the Leinster title against Clough Ballacolla. A disappointing performance followed by a stellar one, is it possible we could be in for a repeat? After all Waterford native, O’Connor knows this Ballygunnar side well. The Shamrocks manager doesn’t believe so;
“I think we’ll see a bit of a difference, as the last game against Saint Thomas in the semifinal was very physical. “
“I think this will be more of a hurling battle, and it will be the fast forwards, the fastball. “
“I think it’ll be an intriguing affair that way, but I’m expecting a huge, major challenge here. “
During the week there were injury concerns over Kevin and Darren Mullen as well as Ronan Corcoran and Conor Phelan. O’Connor is hopefully they will be able to make it to the pitch and gave us updates on their status ahead of the game;
“I am going to give guys up to the eleventh hour because this being our last game, I will try to get as many on the field as I can.”
“We have had major problems with injuries, but that is what a panel is for. We have a lot of lads putting up their hands.”
“In regards to the lads mentioned, I can’t say yes or no at the moment.”
Excitement is high, so I went out to Ballyhale to talk to some young people about the big weekend in Croke Park.
You can hear that full interview between Colin Fennelly & Oisin Langan, as well as interviews with James O’Connor and more when our coverage starts tomorrow on Scoreline from 2, with the game throwing in at 3 with thanks to Gerry Comerford Drilling.